A Study in the Use of Clickers in the Classroom by Dr. Woelk

Dr. Klaus Woelk, Associate Professor of Chemistry, recently had an article published in the Journal of Chemical Education titled “Optimizing the Use of Personal Response Devices (Clickers) in Large-Enrollment Introductory Courses”. Among other things, Dr. Woelk is very active in teaching students introductory chemistry at Missouri S&T. He has soundly embraced the technology of clickers to help improve the learning outcomes of students.

While Dr. Woelk maintains his focus on using clickers for teaching chemistry, he also readily acknowledges and even promotes the fact that clickers can be a very powerful tool in  introductory courses for other disciplines such as mathematics and engineering. Basically, clicker activities can be broken down into two categories: “I am” and “I do”. Dr. Woelk expands each of these two categories into subcategories that involve different types of learning for different activities. For instance, “I am” clicker activities revolve around the student’s active participation in the lecture. Thanks to clickers, the instructor can get near-instantaneous attendance results. Instructors can also use clickers to identify how many of the students have been keeping up with assigned reading (and track which students are not keeping up using the clicker system’s reporting tools).

“I do” clicker activities are tied to the student’s understanding of the concepts, specifically learning, understanding and applying the material. Instructors can pose questions that rely on students understanding the fundamental principles of their discipline in order to succeed. Students can also be forced to defend and articulate their responses to clicker questions.

Dr. Woelk admits that getting students interested and involved in the learning process can be very challenging for instructors. Clickers is one way in which instructors can motivate students to learn.

Here is the bibliographic information for Dr. Woelk’s article, for reference (ACS/Journal of Chemical Education style):

Woelk, K. Journal of Chemical Education. 2008, 85, 1400-1405.