TLT Event: Real-time Polling and Data Analysis with Clickers

On November 12th we held our final TLT event for the semester, “Real-time Polling and Data Analysis with Clickers.” Speaking at the event were Patrick Farace, a Senior Technology Specialist for i>clicker; as well as Matt Carnes, Assistant Professor of Government at Georgetown. Together, the two speakers covered a range of technological and pedagogical aspects of using clickers.

Patrick Farace gave an overview of clickers hardware and software. Then he had the event participants answer clicker questions in order to demonstrate use of multiple choice, numeric, and alphanumeric polling. He also demonstrated the use of “on the fly” and anonymous polling. One of the new aspects of the software that Patrick highlighted was filtering answers by demographics (you can find a video of how to do this on the support page of the Georgetown clickers blog). Finally, Patrick demonstrated different ways to use i>Grader, focusing on options to upload and download data.

Matt Carnes talked about his experience using clickers “from the trenches” as a professor at Georgetown. He uses clickers to keep students actively engaged, asking clicker questions every five or ten minutes.

Matt explained that he asks students four types of questions. The first type is quiz questions, which come straight out of the reading. The second type is opinion questions; when starting a topic, he will ask students how they think something works in order to get their preconceptions. The third type is questions that make connections. For instance, he will stop midway through a lecture and ask, “What author that we read before would agree with today’s topic?” This helps students synthesize information across the course. Or he might see how students extend the material, asking, “What would be the obvious policy implication of this perspective?” Finally, he asks evaluation questions to find out how the students are growing or learning. These questions usually happen around the middle of the semester. For instance, he has gathered from his students about how helpful clickers have been and how heavy they find the course load.

Matt also shared some details about how he assigns points to clickers questions in class. He gives students 8% credit for answering at all and 2% credit for getting quiz questions correct. He also uses clickers to take attendance, which makes things very easy!

Finally, Matt talked about integrating clickers with Blackboard. He explained that there are a couple of specific steps to integrate the two, but this is very doable. If you need any help with this, you can always go to the support page of the Georgetown Clickers blog or ask the staff at CNDLS for help! He also showed a report that he generated from i>grader, demonstrating how it’s possible to use clickers data to do your own data analysis. One great thing about clickers is that the data is always saved no matter what–you never lose any data. Patrick then jumped in to explain that you can even aggregate data across several semesters by merging Excel documents.

The participants at this event had a lot of questions for Matt and Patrick, and everyone really enjoyed hearing their different perspectives on Clickers! Stay tuned for next semester’s TLT events. We hope to see you there!