Clickers as Data Gathering Tools and Students’ Attitudes, Motivations, and Beliefs on Their Use in this Application
Members of the Center for Astronomy Education (CAE) and the Conceptual Astronomy and Physics Education Research (CAPER) Team at the University of Arizona have conducted a systematic investigation into the use of wireless, electronic personal response systems (PRS), more commonly known as “clickers,” to gather research data in the large enrollment introductory astronomy course for nonscience majors (Astro 101). We describe a study and data, which support the assertion that clickers can be used as a data gathering tool for conducting “real-time” research on student learning in the classroom setting. We also present data suggesting that students believe the use of clickers (1) is beneficial to their understanding of course concepts; (2) contributes to improving their exam grades; and (3) increases their interest in course topics even when the clickers are being used solely as research data gathering tools rather than the more traditional application in which clickers are used as an instructional device to gather student votes as part of Think-Pair-Share (TPS) or Peer Instruction (PI). Additionally, we offer a description of our classroom observations, which suggests that the use of color-coded A, B, C, D, E voting cards for gathering student answers in class may hold greater pedagogical value and provide a greater potential to gather accurate research results than do the use of clickers or Scantron™ forms.
Prather, E. E., & Brissenden, G. 2009, Astronomy Education Review, 8(1)