Southeastern Section - 57th Annual Meeting (10–11 April 2008)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM


ARMOUR, Jake, Dept. of Geography & Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28223-0001,

It has become clear in recent years that the use of classroom response systems (clickers) in large lecture settings has many benefits. These benefits include increased student participation and faculty student feedback. Like any other successful new technology, there are many competing systems with their own costs and benefits. In my last 5 semesters of lecturing at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC), I have taken the time to evaluate three different clicker systems. These systems were evaluated based on cost, reliability, and ease of use. These criteria serve to better evaluate the overall effectiveness of these different clicker systems as a teaching tool.

These clicker systems were evaluated in multiple sections of large enrollment (~180) introductory Physical Geology courses and Earth Science courses. In the 2005-06 academic year I utilized the PRS infrared clicker system manufactured by GTCO/Calcomp. I switched to the iclicker system (radio frequency) manufactured by Macmillan US for the 2006-07 academic year. In the fall of 2007 I also evaluated the PRS radio frequency clicker system manufactured by GTCO/Calcomp as a result of a campus-wide initiative to evaluate and standardize clicker usage at UNCC. Each clicker system was utilized for a full semester by asking 2-4 multiple choice questions during every lecture. These questions would typically be imbedded within PowerPoint slides and would involve material from the previous, current, or future lectures.

My experience with these three different clicker systems over nearly three years has revealed some important considerations. Because the cost of these systems is so closely competitive, the slight differences in price are not significant to the students. Reliability and ease of use on the other hand were the most important evaluation criteria. The final key component of the clicker system evaluation was the quality of the course management software and how that affected question design, delivery, and grade book management for the instructor. After careful evaluation of these systems, it was clear that the iclicker system was the most practical and effective classroom response system of those tested and lent itself to discernable increases in teaching effectiveness in my geoscience courses.