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Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 11:05 AM


ARMOUR, J., Department of Geography & Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Boulevard, Charlotte, NC 28223,

Classroom response systems are becoming commonplace in large introductory college classrooms. However, like any successful new technology, new systems and refinements are rapidly becoming available. As a result, faculty members and students alike, struggle to keep up with ever changing technology. In an attempt to stem the tide of change, many universities are choosing to adopt a campus-wide system. This serves a number of purposes, not the least of which are to reduce student expenses and reduce the workload of campus IT. The challenge is to determine which system best balances the needs of all users.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte recently completed the process of choosing a single classroom response system. This process was long and arduous, fraught with differing special interests – from the sometimes conflicting needs of the sciences and humanities, to the constant pressure applied by sales representatives, to the compatibility requirements of campus IT. In this case a system was chosen by a committee composed of well-meaning faculty and staff with relatively little experience using clickers in the classroom. After one year of use, this system has been deemed inadequate by nearly all parties involved and new systems are now under review. How can this be avoided at your institution?

I have used three unique classroom response systems extensively in my large introductory earth science classrooms over the past 5 years in an effort to determine best practices for improving student learning outcomes. Through these experiences I have found that there are fundamental criteria for choosing a system that optimizes student engagement and promotes faculty participation. These criteria include: simplicity and durability of hardware, ability to allow students to self register their clicker, easily collect responses from spontaneous questions during lecture, and user-driven software for data processing. Systems that don’t meet these criteria clearly discourage faculty use and reduce student participation which make it difficult to assess any improvement in learning outcomes based on this technology. As many institutions move forward with campus-wide adoptions, it will be very important to consider these fundamental aspects of any potential classroom response system before making a final decision.

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