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Demonstrating our PRS system at a departmental Away-Day

with 2 comments

In 15 minutes I had, I thought I could show JISC’s 5 minute case-study video from Strathclyde, meanwhile distribute some unallocated clickers to the 40 participants and then move to a series of survey questions about:

  • Engagement of students in lectures
  • What most interested them about the PRS
  • Plus an MCQ about what GLEU stands for (to demonstrate correct answer).

I wouldn’t show them a grid of responses, or allocate identities to the clickers on a roster, but I would show a barchart of stats after each question.

The questions (approximately):

  1. Do you feel that students are engaged during your lectures?
    • Always
    • Usually
    • Sometimes
    • Rarely
    • I’m not prepared to answer that question!
  2. What aspect of PRS most interests you?
    • Diagnostic formative assessment at intervals during lectures to check understanding.
    • To keep students critically engaged throughout lectures
    • Opinion polls
    • As a stimulus for group discussion
    • Another aspect – ask me
  3. What does ‘GLEU’ stand for?
    • A number of options
    • Goldsmiths Learning Enhancement Unit [CORRECT]

I set up early – other presenters were going to switch between my laptop and another presenter’s mac – went away and came back.

A number of issues came up, outline below with some possible resolutions:

  1. The first survey question the barchart was empty. The  IR receptor was no longer responding to port check – it wasn’t communicating the clicks to the software. Since I was the last session of a long morning, there was little float time. I had checked this in the morning but I think maybe the receiver was disconnected while I was away. This should have been OK – systems should be robust enough to cope with this kind of thing – but ours is not the newest. After a number of attempted remedies, I restarted. This worked. A few people were interested enough to come back from lunch and have a look. So, if you are sharing kit, do a port-check before starting the presentation. And if there’s a problem, try restarting first. And I need to check we have the most recent driver installed, so that disconnecting doesn’t flummox the whole thing.
  2. Some participants wanted the feedback that they had clicked, and what response they had chosen. I had decided not to show the grid because it obscures some of the slide. It is possible to arrange the slide so that the grid can be positioned alongside. Or it is possible to make the questions available (for reference) on a different screen or in a different way. I think confirmation of choice might only be important if the clickers were allocated to individual students, and the responses counted towards something. But AP did mention that he gets students in class to write down their responses, because otherwise with more complicated questions they often forget what they initially responded. There is feedback of how many people have responded, which can be seen in the top row of PRS controls
  3. JM has used clickers as a student at the University of Colorado, where they were a compulsory purchase and used in summative assessment which took place during lectures (5-10% of final mark), and to register attendance. This was very motivating, students did the reading and turned up for sessions.Collect some research evidence on effects on a) engagement b) pre-session reading c) attendance d) other uses.
  4. To issue each student with their own (loaned) registered clicker, or not? If the principle concern is to keep students engaged, then maybe it is enough to do things anonymously. However, it may be helpful for students to think about the correct answer, or the other options, in relation to what their answer was. If they are being used for assessment, then each clicker could be allocated by student number. This would preserve anonymity and allow a single gradebook to be presented to all. Is there a Moodle plugin to make Interwrite talk to the learn.gold gradebook?
  5. Distributing and collecting the clickers. The best scenario is that they are issued to students at the beginning of the year, perhaps via the library. But if they cannot be issued, or there aren’t enough to go round, then perhaps it could be workable to delegate handing them out and collecting them each session, or to get students to replace them in the case themselves. Some thought is needed to streamline this. It is impossible (and probably unnecessary?)  to store the clickers in number order. But it’s likely that a few will be lost each time unless there is some way to count them in and out.  So I think that distributing and collecting them each time will be a challenge.
  6. Battery changes. There need to be some spare clickers handy, and some spare batteries too, during sessions. If we are not longterm-issuing clickers to individual students, and if there’s to be a bulk battery change, I think that students / users can do this (with batteries we supply). It’s not possible to use rechargeables on an institutional scale, but we can recycle with BatteryBack. The batteries last a long time.
  7. The kit is heavy and bulky. Departmental laptops can have the software, and it can be installed on teaching pool room machines. Loaning the clickers out longterm to individual students is the most convenient option but otherwise we can make them available in bulk in a carry-case and allow some to be kept in a department along with the IR receiver(s).

I think it would be ideal if a tutor for a given course piloted PRS, and let us know what the opportunities and issues are. We would offer solid support for a pilot like this.

Written by Mira Vogel

June 18, 2009 at 14:59

Posted in assessment, PRS, psychology