Students and faculty feel differently about technology
Lecture classes at CU have been forever changed by the appearance of clickers. Clickers are not a particularly new technology at CU, but they have become a standard on most students’ booklists within the last few years. While teachers and students alike are adapting to the technology, it is evident that both groups are likely to feel one way or the other towards clickers. They either love them or hate them.
According to Professor Doug Duncan, director of Astronomical Laboratories and author of the book “Clickers in the Classroom,” clickers have in fact created a new learning environment. Compared to the lecture halls in past years, the use of clickers encourages not only active learning, an essential part of any classroom, but it also encourages discussion among students. According to various surveys Duncan has taken part in, the use of clickers has increased the amount students learn inside the lecture hall.
“As soon as I saw clickers I saw great potential for teachers, potential for students and significant potential for misuse,” Duncan said.
Duncan believes that when clickers are used properly, in a thought-provoking way, they can be a great learning tool both for students and teachers. In fact, he believes that open-minded students will gain greatly from this advancement; in his studies he found that students want to know what other students are thinking.
Duncan’s opinion that clickers will succeed is based mainly on various studies that prove that “learning is active in the brain of the student not the mouth of the professor.” Simply put, students learn more quickly through answering questions and discussion than they would from listening to a professor lecture for an hour.
“I found the clickers to have more advantages than disadvantages,” said freshman architecture major Ryan Moore. “They contribute to a more involved class experience in which you pay more attention and take more away with you from each lecture.”
Despite the apparent advantages of clickers, there are also some disadvantages. CU students have disparate opinions when it comes to clickers in the classroom, evident in the seven negative clicker groups on the popular networking website Facebook.com compared with one positive group.
Many dislike clickers because of the attendance-taking factor; students feel they cannot miss clicker questions and thus cannot miss class. Moore agrees that it is discouraging to miss a class and not get credit or the answer to a given clicker question.
“Clickers make me nauseous to think a grade has to depend on technology,” said Mike Maugans, a freshman political science major.
Others are frustrated by the prices or the fact that some lectures require different clickers than others, forcing them to buy two different clickers.
Duncan explained that the hardest-working students tend to become frustrated when forced to discuss the answer with some of their not so hard-working classmates. However, he said this feeling is unnecessary because in the end all students gain more when forced to discuss.
CU has recognized the students’ frustration on this front and has discussed the implementation of a standard clicker for all lecture classes. This way, students could buy one clicker and use it in all of their classes.
Although students are somewhat split on the decision by professors to use clickers, it doesn’t look as though they are going away any time soon. With CU’s national ranking, and plans for a universal clicker, the university is leading the way in clicker technology.
Even Duncan has applied to do more research on the advantages and disadvantages of clicker use. He recalled his favorite quote from a student frustrated by the clickers: “I expected you to teach me. I didn’t expect to have to learn.”
For more information on Duncan or his research on clickers please visit his homepage here
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Amber Klein at firstname.lastname@example.org.