Use of PRS Clickers and Computer Animations in Large Introductory Physics Classes

T. Wrzesniewski (Canada)


Clickers, Computer – assisted learning and instruction, educational outcomes.


Personal Response Systems (PRS), commonly referred to as “clickers”, enable instructors to interact with students by instantaneously collecting responses to posted questions. The answers are immediately tallied and displayed in a bar graph so both students and instructors can see and discuss the results. The immediate feedback provided by the PRS enables the instructor to verify the effectiveness of his or her teaching and allows students to realize any misconceptions that they may have following the introduction of new concepts and ideas in a given lecture. It also allows the instructor to adjust the level of presentation and provide additional explanations for any topics that the students are having difficulty understanding. Clickers were introduced at UBCO in an introductory physics class in 2006 with the expectations of improving students’ academic performance and decreasing the attrition rate which was quite high for the course (~30% for some years) The purpose of this study was to analyze educational outcomes of using clickers and computer animations during the 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 academic years. This paper presents and assesses the teaching strategies that were implemented which proved to be the most effective in fostering students’ learning. Students and faculty feedback is presented and analyzed and some “best-practice tips” are discussed.

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