Third International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology
Susan L. O’Donnell;
George Fox University,
Newberg, OR, USA


There are varied uses of Audience Response System (“clicker”) technology in psychology courses. Sometime they are used to assess student learning with on-the-spot multiple choice quizzes; other times they are used to allow the instructor to have immediate feedback on students’ understanding of course concepts. I have taken a specific approach: that of using the clickers to represent to the students the various realities present in the classroom. Rather than using them simply to check on students’ comprehension of ideas (which I do on occasion), I have found that the process of polling students about topical issues results in deeper level understanding. This serves to engage them more fully. I believe this is related to the basic premise that students are interested in issues that are personally relevant; such that the clickers serve to demonstrate just how relevant psychology is in students’ actual lives.

One example of this approach was a recent poll asking first how many of them lived with a person who was depressed; the second question asked how they responded to the depressed person’s moods. When divided by gender, it was striking that all of the respondents who said they were seriously affected by the depressed moods of others were women. It lead to a discussion on gender differences in depression and socialization of men and women in how to deal with others’ moods (in the same poll, only men reported that they “just don’t spend time with depressed people”). In a class session on deductive reasoning, 90% of the student chose an incorrect answer, demonstrating their failure to correctly use deductive logic in a way that I never could have before. On another occasion, when discussion surrounded the implications of genetic testing, a student came up to me after class and said that having to choose an answer forced her to think about issues that she hadn’t considered previously. She appreciated the push, and felt that it had benefitted her to think about this topic. I believe these examples demonstrate that clicker technology is beneficial through forcing students to take a stand, even anonymously, rather than allowing them to coast without really engaging a topic. This presentation will show some of the interesting graphs resulting from class sessions, as well as discussing the pitfalls of this type of technology, such as relying too heavily on

I followed up with an end of the semester assessment of the students’ perceptions of the usefulness of the clicker technology, including questions regarding whether they felt more engaged. The students were overwhelmingly in favor of the use of clickers, making comments that matched my impression of the class session. Final data analysis is not yet complete (our semester just finished), but inspection of means indicates that students rated classes as more engaging when clickers were used, and rated use of clickers as more likely to hold their attention in class.

Back to index of presentations


Home Page

© 2008 Victor Karandashev