Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Article Review #6: The Effectiveness of a PRS

Shaffer, D., & Collura, M., (2009).  Evaluating the effectiveness of a personal response system in the classroom.  Teaching of Psychology, 36(4), 273-277.

     In Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Personal Response system in the Classroom, Shaffer and Collura (2009) evaluated the effectiveness of the use of clickers during an introductory psychology course.  

     The participants of this study included 177 students enrolled in four sections of an introduction to psychology course.  Data was collected regarding student learning and reactions to using the clickers from the first three sections.  The last section did not use clickers.  In the first three sections, students answered four size estimation questions during the lecture using clickers.  The results were displayed to students and included the correct answer.  These students then answered questions evaluating their use of clickers in the classroom compared to a lecture style format that did not involve the use of clickers.  The fourth section did not use the clickers and instead responded to the four estimation questions by raising their hands.  These students did not answer questions related to their method of engagement during the lecture. 

     Two measures were taken during the study: student learning and student reactions.  With student learning, Shaffer and Collura (2009) asked eleven questions on the exam that were covered in the lecture.  They compared the performance of the clickers class to the “nonclickers” class.   The clickers class answered 84.49% of the eleven questions correctly while the nonclickers class answered 81.45% correctly (p.275).  With student reactions, Shaffer and Collura (2009) analyzed the questions given to the three sections that used clickers.  Students thought that using clickers produced more interaction, and made the lecture more interesting and entertaining (p.276).  In general, student reactions to the clickers were very positive.

     One point that cannot be overlooked in this study is how clicker use actually increased student participation.  Shaffer and Collura state that posing an anonymous answer was appealing to the students (as cited in Draper & Brown, 2004; Kennedy & Cutts, 2005; Wit, 2003).  Through the use of clickers, students did not have to worry about having in incorrect answer; they were more willing to participate and to take a risk.  A large part of learning is being a risk taker.  Being a classroom teacher, I see students shy away from participating in class because of the fear of having the wrong answer. Clickers are just another tool students can use to help bridge participation among all students in the classroom.