The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Clickers Can Impair Deeper Thinking

A new study in the journal Computers & Education claims that while classroom response clickers are effective for helping students with rote learning, the devices can actually impair their ability to understand more conceptual information.

The results were most striking when fact-based questions answered with clickers were followed by big-picture conceptual questions. Lead author Amy M. Shapiro, interim associate dean of graduate studies and research, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, said that the factual questions appeared to shift students into a “hyperfocus” on factual knowledge that made grasping the deeper concepts that followed more difficult.

“While many published reports indicate the technology can substantially benefit learners, we found that clicker effects are somewhat more complicated than previously reported,” the study said. “The technology’s use appears to interact strongly with overall pedagogy, resulting in different outcomes for students enrolled in large, lecture-based courses than for those in smaller, problem-oriented courses.”

The study, whose results are so far unique, doesn’t recommend that educators delete clickers from their toolbox, but it does suggest limits to the devices’ efficacy in certain types of courses and that instructors may need to consider changes in how they’re used.

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