Educational Applications of Clickers in University Teaching

Educational Applications of Clickers in University Teaching

Francisco J. Liébana-Cabanillas, Myriam Martínez-Fiestas, Francisco Rejón-Guardia
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2530-3.ch014
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The purpose of this chapter is to contextualize the situation of the use of remote response devices or clickers in education and identify the benefits that tools such as Q-Click software can bring to university teaching and to different groups of students. To fulfil this objective, the authors conducted research in classes with students who rated 149 different aspects related to the use of such software, including its use in class, benefits, and implications for follow-up assessment of the subject, attention, and class quality. This information was then compared to other groups of students studying the same subject who did not use clickers in class. The findings confirm the original proposal verifying the usefulness of these tools in university teaching for the important consequences for students and teachers.
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The real interest of young people in Information Technology and Communication (ICT) is a phenomenon that has been widely studied in scientific literature because of its implications and social consequences. It is common knowledge that today’s youth have the highest rates of use of computers, Internet access, email, and mobile phones, among other technologies (National Institute of Statistics, INE, 2011). A college education should therefore use these tools to improve processes and outcomes of student learning (Wan et al., 2007) to meet the targets set in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).

The analysis of the implementation of ICT in teaching began several decades ago as its advantages, which reinforced the educational level of students, were recognized. Ferro et al. (2009) summarizes the main advantages of using ICT in university teaching. ICTs:

  • 1.

    Break space-time barriers in teaching and learning activities.

  • 2.

    Create open and flexible learning processes.

  • 3.

    Improve communication between the various players in the teaching and learning process.

  • 4.

    Personalize education.

  • 5.

    Provide quick access to information.

  • 6.

    Facilitate interaction with information.

  • 7.

    Raise the interest level and motivation of students.

  • 8.

    Improve educational effectiveness.

  • 9.

    Allow the teacher more time for other tasks.

  • 10.

    Support follow-up learning.

To date there have been many innovations that have been implemented in teaching: (i) multimedia tools (Alférez et al., 2010), (ii) whiteboards (Murillo, 2010), (iii) web sites (Gates, 2011), (iv) wikis (Ortiz de Urbina and Mora, 2011), (v) forums (Benitez et al., 2011), (vi) Mobile Learning (Liaw et al., 2009), (vii) second life (Checa, 2010) and even (viii) microblogging networks (Liébana-Cabanillas et al., 2011).

The use of remote response devices, electronic voting systems, systems and audience response clickers, began in the sixties (Chafer, 2009), although it was not until the nineties when their use began to flourish. Although these devices were originally used for management meetings, opinion surveys, and conventions, etc. (Ruiz-Jimenez et al., 2010), such tools are widely used in some American universities (Harvard, Massachusetts-Amherst, Colorado, etc.). Recently, these devices are also being used in Spanish universities (Navarra, Barcelona, Granada, Seville, Madrid, etc.) since remote response devices reinforce the quality of education, and improve student performance and the productivity of teachers.

These are devices that allow students to obtain information found in the classroom in an agile, fast and simple via a transmitter (clicker) and receiver system connected by infrared or Bluetooth, to communicate and record responses that students make.

The information obtained in the interaction is processed immediately, allowing instant feedback between teacher and student, which demonstrates class understanding and knowledge on a regular basis, as well as potential problems that students may have with the subject.

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