October 29, 2012

A Few Tips About Using Clickers in the Classroom Gained from 5 Years of Use at Cegep de Trois-Rivières

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

Clickers are available in various forms (handheld, web-based, etc.). They allow students to answer questions anonymously and create an interactivity in the classroom which involves every student. Results can be kept for a formative or summative evaluation as well as to monitor student learning.


The Type of Clicker Used at Cégep de Trois-Rivières.

A closer look reveals how teachers Cégep de Trois-Rivières use this tool in their classroom.

Caroline Milot, Transport Logistics teacher

I started a new activity to introduce the texts of several laws. In class, I assign each participant a different text to read. After reading the text, each student writes a definition, a question and an example. Using the resulting questions, I create a clicker questionnaire and present it in class. Using this tool enables students to become aware of what they have learned and to compare their understanding to that of others. If a student is the only one who is regularly responding incorrectly, the student understands that the problem is probably of a personal nature.

Danielle Heroux, Biology teacher

Clickers allow the teacher to focus on what is less understood, concentrating on certain elements to promote student understanding. Students appreciate an in-depth review using clickers the week before the exam. Studying their results allows them to determine the holes in their understanding and to therefore guide their study in relation to these gaps. I use clickers about 4 or 5 times per semester in order to encourage students to study a little in advance, to evaluate and to illustrate the kinds of questions they will have on the exam.

David Tremblay, Mathematics teacher

I use clickers to create occasional “Oral Questions” to check student understanding. Formative tests contain question sets which provide instant feedback allowing students to situate themselves in relation to their learning. I compile the results, and I encourage an atmosphere of lighthearted competition.

Maryse Gregory, Mechanical Engineering Technology teacher

Clickers allow me to revise content at the start of a class based on a verification of student understanding of the material presented in the last class. These mini-quizzes allow students to become aware of what they understand and what they do not understand. As a teacher, the tool allows me to see their strengths and weaknesses. Where they understand the material, I spend less time to allow more time elsewhere.

Pierre-Olivier Champagne, Psychology teacher

I have developed a unique way to raise awareness of how the statistics obtained through research correspond to reality. I ask the same questions to students, present the statistics from studies, and then compare the results of studies with figures obtained in class. Students can link what they are learning to their own lives (authentic learning).

I present ascending and descending comparisons of various topics. After consultation with students, I draw conclusions. For example, using photographs, I ask the following questions – Do you feel more beautiful or less beautiful than that image? How good is your self-esteem? This technique allows me to help students experience the concept on a personal level in order to understand it better.

Gathering information

Clickers allow me to compile the responses of each student while maintaining anonymity in the classroom. I can get some difficult-to-obtain information more easily.

  • I use them to conduct student surveys.
  • I can also ask students to evaluate my teaching strategies.

Sylvie Poisson Social Work Technology teacher

Clickers allow me to present myths about teamwork. Each fall semester, I use as a diagnostic test to determine student perceptions in relation to teamwork. At the end of the chapter, we review false beliefs, and students can change their opinions in light of the new information they have received.

Sylvie Rochon, Nursing teacher

For the course on calculating dosages, I check if students have mastered this important skill in the administration of drugs. I design exercises necessitating calculations of complex solutions, and I add irrelevant data to verify their judgment (speed of solution, amount in the bag, concentration, etc).

In conclusion, we note that teachers who have used clickers have profited from their use. This tool allows you to:

  • Foster student awareness in relation to their learning
  • Focus on what is less well understood
  • Guide study for students
  • Provide instant feedback
  • Create healthy competition
  • Conduct surveys
  • Compare results
  • Compile anonymous results
  • Review concepts
  • Perform a diagnostic test
  • Check judgment
  • Obtain student feedback on educational strategies

As for yourself, have you used clickers in a class? What benefits have you observed?

About the author

Chantal Desrosiers

She holds a Master’s degree in Education from the Université de Sherbrooke, a Bachelor’s degree in Physics, a certificate in Computer Science and a certificate in Pedagogy from UQTR. She has participated in the CLAAC research project (for Classes d’apprentissage actif – Active Learning Classrooms), several RCCFC projects and the Cégeps en réseau project. She is a technopedagogical counsellor (Cégep de Trois-Rivières) and also teaches technopedagogy (PERFORMA). In partnership with Bernard Gagnon (Cégep de Saint-Félicien), she developed a technopedagogical website for college teachers: TacTIC pédagogiques. It offers training on cloud-based applications, Moodle and active learning. Join on Google+ or Skype (chantal.desrosiers).

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