Tag Archives: clickers

On Using Clickers

I was asked this week to reflect on why I use clickers for use on the Faculty of Arts ISIT website. Here are my responses…

  1. Background information about your course
    • I use clickers in four of my courses: Introductory psychology (Psyc 101 and 102; 260-370 students), Research methods (Psyc 217; 90 students but as few as 30 years ago), Statistics (Psyc 218; 90 students).
  2. How did you use iClickers in your course and what made you decide to do this?
    • I use clickers every class period for numerous purposes. I ask multiple choice questions to test whether students understand a previous concept before moving on to something new, to spark discussion (especially when there is no one definitive right answer), to survey attitudes about the topic or course (like where to put the laptop-free zone), and as a timer for groupwork or peer-to-peer discussions so we all know how long they have been working. Plus the instructor clicker advances my slides and is easy to use.
  3. What has been the result?
    • When I’m using clickers most effectively, it means the students and I are in dialogue throughout the lesson. Students are constantly developing greater insight into whether they understand the concepts—and so am I (see also research on the testing effect, for evidence that testing rather than just reviewing contributes to longer lasting learning). It’s also engaging and motivating: Students want to know what the answer is, and will sometimes even cheer for correct responses. Questions give us a point of discussion that regularly takes us all deeper than just a surface understanding, as students may argue for one or another answer and we have to unpack why. Also, I have data showing that talking in class is related to feeling a sense of community. Clickers help me trigger and steer those conversations to build community.
    • Other benefits: I have become better at asking multiple choice questions, because I get immediate (and vocal!) feedback if an item is worded unclearly. Every student participates (not just the brave) – and if someone chooses E for a question that gives options A-D only, I get to smile and lightly invite that person (whoever it is) to make the choice to learn today.
  4. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and is there anything about your approach you would improve or change?
    • When I started using clickers, the biggest challenge I faced was responding in the moment to whatever response pattern comes up. Over the years I’ve developed a toolkit of options to use, depending on the response pattern, but sometimes I’m still surprised by what comes up! For example, if it’s 50/50 between two options, I often invite a “turn to your neighbour, discuss, and revote” which usually clears up the problem. Other times I don’t reveal the answers immediately to the class (though I can see them on the receiver), but instead ask the whole class why someone might choose a particular response over another, and then reveal.
    • I’ve toyed with the idea of using a service with text-based responses (e.g., TopHat), rather than the i>clicker with just multiple choice options, but haven’t yet. For now, multiple choice questions meet my needs.
  5. Do you have any advice for instructors hoping to implement this in their courses?

Psyc 101 Section 005

Hello to all my new, eager students! I’m receiving emails daily from people wondering about book options. Normally these are the kinds of questions that would receive an answer along the lines of “please check your syllabus” — however, considering I haven’t quite finished it yet, I can’t exactly expect you to consult it.

If you’re in my Psyc 101 class, section 005, that meets MWF 12-1, we’re meeting in CIRS 1250 (the only giant classroom in that building).

You absolutely need three things:

  • REQUIRED TEXTBOOK   “Psychology: From inquiry to understanding” Second Canadian edition by Lilienfeld and other authors. It *must* be the second Canadian edition with a cover that looks like this or this.
    • EDITIONS: DSM5 update edition is also acceptable. The 1st Canadian edition is not recommended. No US editions or books by any other authors will work for this course.
    • *Note: If you are registered in my Psyc 102 Section 004 course to begin January 2015, you can use the same textbook! But you will not be able to use this book for any other section of 101 or 102.
    • PURCHASE OPTIONS: A new, hard copy of the text is available to buy from the UBC Bookstore or Discount Textbooks, and comes with a $10 i>clicker rebate coupon, access to MyPsychLab study guide, and the electronic version of the text. To save cash, you can buy access to the e-text and MyPsychLab (without a hard copy) from www.mypsychlab.com using our course code COMING SOON. Used hard copies of the 2nd Canadian edition should be available.
  • REQUIRED i>clicker   An i>clicker personal response system, available at the bookstore. Physical i>clickers can be purchased at the bookstore, used or new. You must REGISTER YOUR i>clicker on our Connect course website (on or after Sept 2) to receive the points you earn in class. Want to try using your web-enabled device instead? Sign up at www.iclickergo.com (find out more http://wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation:Clickers/GO).
  • REQUIRED CONNECT COURSE WEBSITE   Our course website is www.connect.ubc.ca. Log in using your CWL (on or after September 2). Register your i>clicker, download PowerPoint slides after each lesson, announcements, discuss course material with your Learning Group, check your grades, submit assignments, give peer feedback, and more! You are responsible for checking this site frequently.
  • RECOMMENDED MYPSYCHLAB TEXTBOOK COMPANION WEBSITE   Includes study tools such as an electronic version of the text, practice quizzes, flashcards, chapter reviews, relevant links, videos and more. Your text (electronic or hard copy) comes with an access code you can enter on www.mypsychlab.com. If you buy a used book and want access, visit their website for purchase options. Our course ID code is COMING SOON. You don’t have to have access to MyPsychLab It comes with the textbook bundle at the bookstore, or you can buy online access later. Note that representatives for the publishing company for your textbook have made this website, not me. I had nothing to do with it. Many students have found it helpful for studying, but it’s up to you if you want to use it.

There are a few more resources we’ll be using over the year, but I’ll explain those later. These are the resources I’ve been asked about. Note that if you are experiencing serious financial need, please come to me and I’ll work with you to find access to the resources you need. (And don’t feel embarrassed — I’ve been there myself.) For example, I have some i>clickers for loan. Please see me during my office hours in September.

I’ll post the syllabus when it’s ready, later this week. Looking forward to meeting you next week!

Student Evaluations of Teaching 2012/2013: Part 1 Intro Psych

Thank you to each of my students who took the time to complete a student evaluation of teaching this year. I value hearing from each of you, and every year your feedback helps me to become a better teacher. As I explained here, I’m writing reflections on the qualitative and quantitative feedback I received from each of my courses.

Introduction to Psychology

Overall, I was very pleased with my introductory psychology students’ assessments of my teaching this year. Quantitative data were all highly positive (see the orange bars here).  In the qualitative responses, many students highlighted my enthusiasm, organization, strong communication skills, and care for getting to know them as individuals. Because these themes emerge regularly, particularly from my introductory students, I have learned to embrace them and lean into them – a strategy that seems to be working! Specific features of our course/my teaching that many students noted as particularly effective include i>clickers as a way to engage attention and reinforce learning, invitational office hour as a way to connect personally with students, videos and demonstrations in class to make points memorable, and having three midterms (rather than two, as we did in 2nd term) as helpful for keeping on top of readings. For next year, I’ll switch term 2 (which will be a separate course, Psyc 102) to a three-midterm format.

Mid-way through the year, I was discussing the use of Learning Objectives with students at an IOH. During that discussion, someone suggested I keep the Learning Objectives posted somewhere throughout the class, to serve as a reminder of what students need to especially focus on understanding and doing. In response, I committed to posting the LOs before each class period on our Vista course website. That way, students can consult them throughout the class (provided they have a device to do so… which many do). Many students noted that they found this cumulative list of LOs helpful during class as well as later as an exam study tool. There are many reasons why I can’t post my slides before class, but I can commit to posting LOs. Because this simple thing seemed to be so helpful for at least a subset of students, I will continue doing this in the fall (and perhaps extend to all my courses).

Exams and papers were two discussion points that were noted in various ways in quite a few posts. Regarding exams, many students noted they were challenging (which I embrace), yet a few added that they felt unprepared for this level of difficulty. One of the things I will consider doing next year is holding an optional review session outside of class time before at least the first midterm. I’m not willing to simply re-teach material (as if coming to the review session would be enough studying, or would substitute for coming to class thrice weekly), so I’ll have to think more about how to approach them (see Regan Gurung’s Observer article). Logistically this could be tricky, especially if there are many students who attend. I’ll have to give this possibility some more thought.

For the past four years I’ve required students write a 600 word paper each term on one of two or three topics each term. All papers have in common a requirement to do something to apply a course concept, summarize what they did or saw, and explain how that event illustrates that concept (e.g., write a study plan applying principles of memory). A handful of people gave really thoughtful feedback on the main challenge this paper poses: 600 words isn’t long enough to dive deeply into the material. I haven’t been thrilled with the quality of the papers recently… in part because I simply can’t offer a scaffolded process with meaningful feedback to 250-350 students a term. To help address this feedback issue, I turned it over to the students this year. I added a requirement to the paper that people give peer feedback to four of their peers’ papers using peerScholar software, and gave people a week to incorporate the feedback they received (if they chose to do so) before final submission. To my surprise, not a single person mentioned peerScholar in their qualitative feedback. Was it just not memorable? Not helpful? I can’t tell. I recall having called a vote using i>clickers at the end of term 1 during which people endorsed it as useful and wanted to use it again… but it didn’t show up at all in student evals! I’m really not sure what to make of that, but I presume students didn’t hate it or else I’d have heard about it. I’m considering a new approach to the papers, inspired by this ToP article I wrote about a few weeks ago, while incorporating peer ratings through peerScholar as a study tool. I think that could work to satisfy both my writing-to-learn and peer feedback goals.

Notably, the graph highlights the fact that my classes of ~250 (2010/2011, 2012/2013) seem to be rated more highly than my classes of ~350 (2011/2012). Given this pattern, I am a bit nervous heading into next year. For the past three years I have been fortunate to teach some of the last three 6-credit sections of Introductory Psychology (Psyc 100). From now on, admin has decided that all sections will split into 101 and 102. The content mostly mirrors the first half and second half of Psyc 100, respectively, but with two huge differences: it’s not (entirely) the same group of students, and because neither is a prereq for the other, 102 students might not have had 101 at all (let alone with me). Having the same group of students all year has afforded me the rich opportunity to establish relationships across eight months with the same group of students. I can invite every single student to an Invitational Office Hour over that length of time – which has led me to personally meet 70% of my intro students in each of my last three cohorts. In 2013/2014, with 350 students in Psyc 101 and potentially an entirely different crew of 250 students in Psyc 102, there is logistically no way I can invite everyone. Because IOH has been so enormously successful, I will continue it. But it will need to be by random selection (plus an open invite to keen students), and I will no longer be able to offer 1% for coming and “engaging in learning” because I can’t offer that opportunity to everyone. I’ve met such interesting students and established great relationships and community through IOH… I hope people still come!

My advice if you’re choosing intro psych for 2013/2014: sign up for Psyc 101 and 102, in that order… with me J (or someone else, but I’d love to meet you!). Then, if you’re in my sections, come to IOH so we can get to know each other!

Many thanks to all my Psyc 100 students in 2012/2013 students who completed this evaluation. The response rate this year was 62%, which is among my higher rates. And thanks to the whole class for a fun year of learning about psychology!

Welcome back!

September 2012 is here, and the first week is already over! I forgot how tired I feel by Friday afternoons — wow! It’s like I can feel my body powering down. But my fatigue is warranted. This has been such a fun week! My husband and I kicked off the school year with a whirlwind trip to Ontario to witness my friend’s wedding last weekend. She and I lived together all through undergrad, and were basically inseparable during that time. A few of our other lovely friends from undergrad were there too, so it was wonderful to catch up and reminisce about good old Waterloo. The experience also served to remind me of what a profound impact my undergraduate experience had on my life, both intellectually and socially… which got me pumped to be a part of other people’s undergraduate experience!

On Tuesday I arrived in class at 5pm… and sat down in the student chairs. Yes, I’m taking a course! Why, you ask? Well, I want to. I value the classroom as a rich opportunity to learn, and I felt it was time to sit down and feel what it’s like to learn in that way again. I chose the course Psyc 312A: History of Psychology for many reasons. First, Dr. Andrea Perrino is amazing. I was a TA for her a long time ago and was inspired then by her enthusiasm. I wanted the chance to learn from her, as one teacher to another, to consider her pedagogical choices and prompt me to reflect on my own. Faculty rarely ever watch each other teach; I was grateful she agreed I could take her class for this rich opportunity. Second, I am (finally!) interested in the content! I’ve been teaching intro psych (3 years and counting), research methods (5 years and counting), and statistics (recently renewed after a few years’ hiatus). These are broad, generalist courses: my training in my home area of social psychology is useful but not always directly. Over these years these courses have prompted me to cultivate an interest in the discipline as a whole, and I felt it was time for me to really consider the origins and development of my discipline to enrich how and what I teach in these generalist courses. Psychology is only about 150 years old, so it shouldn’t be too hard, right? Ha!

One of the things Andrea (I mean… Dr. Perrino) did on her first day was started foremost with an introduction the the history of psychology. The topic. Not the syllabus. Sure, that came later, but she kicked off with a passionate rationale for why this course is important. It was inspiring, and influenced the way I began my courses on Wednesday. Instead of starting with the syllabus, I started with the topic, the reasons why it’s important to take this course. Based on feedback after that first class, I seem to have succeeded in inspiring at least some students to be excited about our course (even research methods!). In fact, I barely covered the syllabus at all in Intro, but did so using an i>clicker quiz today. I did that last year too, but this year I was more deliberate in my choice of what to reveal on the first day versus the second. The subject is most important… how we get there is important too, but secondary.

My students have been fantastic this week! Research methods felt like a class reunion from last year’s intro — fantastic to see so many of my fabulous students returning for more psychology, and I can’t wait to meet everyone else! And intro… well… I’ve never had two completely-filled hours of student meetings on the first day of class! I have had such fun meeting so many students this week. Their energy is palpable: it’s a new year, a new beginning, and we’re going to have a great time!

Here’s (sort of) what I see when I look out from the front of my intro psych classroom: 270ish energized students! Click on the image to enlarge it. See you next week!


Psyc 217 Research Methods: What textbooks do you need?

Hello to all my new, eager students! I’ve received quite a few emails recently about the textbooks. Normally these are the kinds of questions that would receive an answer along the lines of  “please check your syllabus” — however, considering I haven’t quite finished it yet, I can’t exactly expect you to consult it.

Here’s what you need:

  • Cozby, P. C., & Rawn, C. D. (2012). Methods in Behavioural Research(Canadian Ed.). Toronto, ON: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.
    • This is a nuts-and-bolts style guide to research methods that focuses on the details of how to conduct research. Available new from the bookstore, or electronically on Coursesmart. *Note that used editions do not exist because this edition is brand new.
    • Yes, I am the second author. Please note that I am donating all royalties from UBC sales to UBC scholarships.
    • Can you use an old edition? No, I do not recommend it. Here are a few reasons why. First off: most examples are changed, updated, and now integrate Canadian culture, terminology, and research (spot your profs in the reference list!). Second, I totally overhauled the ethics chapter to reflect the Canadian context of conducting research (e.g., in terms of government, terminology, structure). The old one is all-American. Third, I’ve improved the book based on two rounds of (Canadian) reviews as well as my own experiences teaching this course for the past four years. You’ll notice a synergy between what happens in class (e.g., diagrams, ways of explaining things), and the textbook. Fourth, I’ve added extra features to help you learn. For example, I’ve re-worked the learning objectives so that it’s clearer what to do with them, and I’ve ensured every bolded term is in the glossary, which wasn’t true before…. Changes like that that will make it easier for you to learn from this text.
  • Stanovich, K. E. (2009). How to Think Straight about Psychology(9th Ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
    • This guide to research methods provides a nice complement to the details of the first text. It is written from a bigger picture perspective. Available new and used from the bookstore. If you buy it new from the bookstore, it comes with a $10 off i>clicker coupon and a free guide to APA style.
  • Cuttler, C. (2010). Research Methods in Psychology. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt.
    • This is the lab guide — created for our Psych 217 labs — that will help you and your teammates work step-by-step to create a successful research project.
  • i>clicker Student Response System, available new and used from the bookstore.

Hope that’s a helpful start. I’ll post the syllabus later this week when I have it complete. Looking forward to meeting you next week!