Different Reward Structures to Motivate Student Interaction with Electronic Response Systems in Astronomy
Electronic response systems (“clickers”) are used in introductory astronomy classes as a real-time assessment tool. Different reward structures for student responses to clicker questions are used to motivate individual participation or group collaboration before responding. The impact of two reward structures on student behavior and learning is investigated. This study finds that a success-bonus incentive (in which individual participation points are doubled when the class attains a threshold success rate) strongly motivated students to collaborate, whereas a participation-only credit (no success-bonus) incentive resulted in one-third of the students answering individually without collaboration. With a participation-only incentive, students who answered individually (“self-testers”) were found to have more positive attitudes toward astronomy and science, and higher self-confidence in their learning than students who interacted before answering without a success-bonus incentive (“collaborators”). These collaborators experienced downward shifts in attitudes and self-confidence, in contrast to the static attitudes and self-confidence of self-testers. The implication is that students with little or no background in science prefer to answer collaboratively rather than independently and that these students are also negatively impacted by a one-semester introductory astronomy course.
Len, P. M. 2006, Astronomy Education Review, 5(2), p.5–15