Using Clickers to Facilitate Student Engagement

Using clicker questions to facilitate student engagement has been a winning strategy for Dr. James E. Collins, a chemistry teaching instructor who has been at ECU since 2002. His students have noticed and appreciated his efforts and they were cited when College STAR surveyed students last year.

“The clicker questions he provides motivate me to go to class because he takes time to not only solve the problems, but also provides time for us to solve them giving us a better understanding of the topic when we go to review at home,” the student wrote.

Clickers are radio frequency devices that students can use to respond to multiple choice questions on slides posted by Dr. Collins at various points throughout a class.

Dr. Collins said he has been using clickers for about six years and uses clicker data as part of a student’s participation grade. He said it helps him embrace the concept of “involve me and I’ll understand” and has been good for both his teaching and student participation.

Dr. Collins was also praised because his classes are well-structured with agendas, announcements and a consistent format. “I find the strategies Dr. Collins uses in the classroom very helpful and effective. I’m eager to come to class and the way that he presents the information allows me to understand where I may be confused on a certain calculation or problem, “the student wrote. “He is organized and has a set routine of how his classroom runs.”

Dr. Diane Majewski, Project Director for College STAR at ECU, said this is a theme that is consistent among students. “Students appreciate consistency, structure, and active teacher involvement. In general, students seem to like it when professors conveyed that they had their act together,” she said.

In addition, Dr. Collins gives out an assignment every day. “My students get their material in short chunks and it helps pace them,” he said. 

Where would he like to make additional improvements in his classes? Dr. Collins said he still finds it frustrating that the last bit of material in every class seems to get lost as students pack up and prepare to move on to the next activity in their day.