Collaborative Research Projects
Undergraduates' Perceptions of Personal Responses Systems in Calculus, Physics, and Engineering Classes
This project is a collaboration among the Searle Center, Academic Technologies, and faculty from the mathematics department, the physics department, the School of Education and Social Policy, and the McCormick School of Engineering.
Ben-David Kolikant, Y., & Drane D. (2006). Using the personal response system technology to crack the code of silence. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Conference, San Francisco.
Undergraduates' Perceptions of Personal Response Systems in Calculus, Physics, and Engineering Classes
Personal response systems (PRSs), also known as "clickers," can be a catalyst for transformation – transformation of the environment from one of silence to one rich in dialogue and interaction. But how is this transformation achieved? This is an interview study involving 3 instructors who use PRS in undergraduate science and math classes Northwestern University. All three instructors reported having had to make significant adjustments to their teaching over time in order to transform their respective learning environments and fully realize the benefits of PRS. These included
- adjustments to activities in order to overcome the tension between the students' desire for anonymity and the need for interactivity to enhance learning, and
- adjustment to PRS questions in response to student behavior.
We assert that transformation of the environment with PRS is neither instantaneous nor straightforward, and that in addition to technical support, faculty who introduce PRS into their classrooms may benefit from substantial pedagogical support. Finally, we note that the ongoing feedback on the learning state of the classroom provided by PRS may help transform faculty, moving them from teacher-centered approaches to teaching to more student-centered ones.