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Designing Questions for Classroom Response Systems

A step by step guide to integrating a classroom response system into your lecture

Andy Williams

on 14 October 2013

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Transcript of Designing Questions for Classroom Response Systems

Designing Questions for Classroom Response Systems
Getting Started
Every question should have an explicit pedagogic purpose. Think about what you want the outcome of the question to be.
These questions require students to apply their knowledge and understanding to particular situations and contexts. Application questions often ask students to connect course content to “real-world” situations, implement procedures, predict the outcome of experiments, or make a decision in a given scenario.
Confidence Level
Asking students
to rate their confidence in their answers (high, medium, or low) can enhance the
usefulness of information on student learning. Prompting students to assess their confidence may also remind the students to evaluate and assess their own learning progress.
Critical Thinking
These questions generally require a higher level of thinking, asking students to analyze relationships among multiple concepts. Often these questions are "one-best-answer questions.” These questions can be very effective in preparing students to engage in class discussions about the reasons behind their answers.
Select a Question
Once you know what you would like to accomplish with your question, you can select the type of question that is best suited to your goals.
Student Perspective
These are questions that ask students to share their opinions, experiences, or demographic information. They can often generate rich discussion, particularly questions about
ethical, legal, or moral issues. The anonymity that clickers provide is often an essential ingredient in asking these kinds of questions.
These questions go beyond recall and assess students’
understanding of important concepts. Instructors can make multiple choice answers that will help identify student misconceptions.
These questions ask students to recall facts, concepts, or techniques relevant to class.
They can be used to see if students did the assigned reading or have memorized key facts. They rarely generate discussion and don’t require higher-order
thinking skills.
Contingent Teaching
Clickers can be used to gauge student understanding in real-time and modify one’s lesson plan accordingly. If the clicker data show that students understand a given topic, then the instructor can move on to the next one. If not, then more time can be spent on the topic. Immediate feedback means you don't have to wait for the next test or assignment to determine which topics need more work.
Peer Instruction
The teacher poses a question to his or her students. The students ponder the question
silently and transmit their individual answers using the clickers. The teacher then instructs the
students to discuss the question with their neighbor. After a few minutes of discussion, the students
submit their answers again. This technique often results in more students choosing the
correct answer as a result of the peer instruction phase of the activity. This is a fairly simple way to use
clickers to engage a large number of students in discussions about course material.
Select an Activity
The way you use the student response system is just as critical as the question you ask. The activity should be tailored to match course content, time constraints, learning objectives, and your own teaching style.
Displaying student responses to a question is an effective way to warm a class up for a class-wide
discussion. This approach gives all students time to think about and commit to an answer. The alternative is to use the rasing of hands, which is much less inclusive.
Simply pose questions to students and collect their answers for real-time information about student learning. This can be used by both the instructor and the students to monitor learning and provide feedback.
Adding Questions to a Lecture
Well structured questions are essential to the effective use of classrooms response systems. Follow these final steps to ensure that your questions are lecture ready.
Addison, Stephen, Adrienne Wright, and Rachel Milner. "Using Clickers to Improve Student Engagement and Performance in an Introductory Biochemistry Class." International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 37.2 (2009): 84-91. Print.

Bruff, Derek. "Classroom Response Systems." Center for Teaching. Vanderbilt University. Web. 13 Jun 2013. <http://www4.uwm.edu/ltc/srs/faculty/best_practices.cfm>.

Beatty, Ian D., William J. Gerace, William J. Leonard, and Robert J. Dufresne. "Designing effective questions for classroom response system teaching." Scientific Reasoning Research Institute and Department of Physics, University of Massachusetts. (2005): n. page. Web. 20 Jun. 2013. <http://www.ualberta.ca/~tti/files/Beatty_2006deq.pdf>.

Fan, Daisy, and Clare vandenBlink. "A comparison and evaluation of personal response systems in introductory computer programming." American Society for Engineering Education. (2009): n. page. Web. 21 Jun. 2013. <http://2020engineer.iss.utep.edu/world/Research Literature/2551_A_COMPARISON_AND_EVALUATION_OF_PERSONAL_.pdf>.
Start Slow
Use Variety
Consider Assigning Credit
Practice the Technology
Learn More
Based on "Classroom Response Systems" by Derek Bruff, Director, Vanderbilt Center for Teaching, and other works
Technology in teaching tends to be used for the benefit of the instructor rather than the student.

a) Strongly Agree
b) Agree
c) Neutral
d) Disagree
e) Strongly Disagree
% Given an nr-by-nc matrix M
for r= 1: nr
for c= 1: nc
A(c,r)= M(r,c);

a) A is M with the columns in reverse order
b) A is M with the rows in reverse order
c) A is the transpose of M
d) A and M are the same
Which claim is true?

a. A for-loop can do anything a while-loop can do
b. A while-loop can do anything a for-loop can do
c. for- and while-loops can do the same things
Select the most accurate statement concerning Ethernet and Internet.

a) An internet is impossible without Ethernet
b) The Internet needs Ethernet
c) Today’s Internet depends on Ethernet
d) Totally independent concepts
Don't set your expectations too high for your first use of a classroom response system. Plan to ask more questions each class as the semester continues.
Let the students know why you are using such a system and the benefits you expect it to have for them.
Vary the type of questions and activity so that the response system does not become too routine. Asking 20 recall questions in a row will leave the students as inattentive as they were without the system.
Assigning credit to students' answers to questions raises the stakes and forces them to take the questions even more seriously.
Avoid spending the first lecture of the year trying to find the right cable or connect to the internet.
The internet is full of useful resources to aid instructors in implementing classroom response systems. The way you choose to use the system should be both enjoyable and effective.

An Ethernet address is how long?

a) 4 bytes
b) 6 bytes
c) 8 bytes
d) 16 bytes
How confident are you in your previous answer?

a) Certain
b) Fairly Confident
c) Somewhat Confident
d) Unsure
e) Extremely Doubtful
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