How to Engage Students and Receive Instant Feedback

On December 4th I had the honor of sitting in the classroom of a fantastic Psychology instructor’s classroom at Kirkwood Community College.  I wanted to observe how she was using Learning Catalytics in her course.   Learning Catalytics is a bring your own device system that allows instructors to ask over 18 different question types which takes this system beyond what the clicker system had to offer.  Judith Wightman adopted this technology after she experienced as a student in another class.  If you are looking for ways to engage your students and to focus your precious minutes with your students on the specific content they need, keep reading to see how Judith is using Learning Catalytics in her course.

The questions she delivered to the class were a review for the final exam.  She used the system throughout the semester, I just happened to visit class during the final review.  As the questions were delivered, she always told students which chapter the question came from so they could write down where they need to go in the book if they were not getting the answers correct.

She delivers the questions to their device without showing it on the main screen.  She waits until all students have submitted answers before showing results on big screen.   If you want the question to show on the main screen (projection) and on the student’s device, then you need to run the instructor portion from a second device such as an iPad.

Question 1 – 100% got it right so she did not review that topic further.

Question 2 – there were differences in answers.  She did not show the results but told them to discuss the answers with the people the system assigned.  There was an immediate buzz in the classroom.  I could hear students telling other students why some answers just didn’t make sense.  She opened it for round 2 and they answered again and when they did round 2 after discussion, everyone got it right.  She did a real quick review but the students had really taught each other.

Question 3 – almost everyone got it right so she did a quick review with an example without having the students talk to each other.

Question 4 – All students got it right.  It discussed one part of the brain.  She did a quick review of the other parts of the brain in the picture that were not covered in the question.

After question 4 she said it’s obvious students know chapter 1 and 2 so she would recommend not spending a lot of their time on that chapter when studying for the final exam.  She suggested to focus on: Chapters 12, 13, 14

Question 5 – Some got it wrong so they had to talk to the people the system assigned.  The students were not all with the same people they talked to about question 2.  Judith told them B and C were attractive so talk about what each of them are.  I saw one group that could not come up with the definition of each so they asked the group next to them.  The second group was happy to help the struggling group.

First round 56% got it right.  Second round 88% got it right.  She did a review on this question to make sure everyone understood it.

Question 6 – The most popular answer was an incorrect answer so they were to discuss it with the person the system assigned.  She did a more extensive explanation on the board of the concept.  The student I heard had a hard time coming to a conclusion when discussing in their group.
Round 1 24% correct.  Round 2 90% correct

Question 7 – 72% got it right.  28% got it wrong and all chose the same wrong answer so she clarified why that answer was the incorrect answer.

She didn’t get to 8, 9 and 10 because of time constraints so put them up quickly so they would have the question to review for the final.

Conclusion: Students were able to get an idea of where they needed to spend time studying for the final exam.  Sometimes they read things and think they understand but with this, they have to put an answer in and get feedback which confirms their knowledge or points out a need for more study.  The instructor is able to spend time reviewing the information the students need most.  During the school year the teacher can use this to drive all of the lecture content with the goal being a quick review on the reading students did before class and then moving onto applied or interactive activities.  It saves time by not covering what they already know and allows them to spend more time on the topics that caused confusion.  Students were engaged and had great conversations with each other about the different topics.  They were teaching each other through debate or instruction.

I asked two students sitting in front of me what they thought of Learning Catalytics:  “I like it a lot.  It’s an easy way to learn and quiz.  It’s more interactive.  So much better than just getting a sheet of paper.” Kirkwood Students

Have the students write down the session ID so if they accidentally close the program on their computer they can quickly log back in without disrupting the class.
She taped stickers on the back of the chairs with their chair numbers on them to be able to quickly do the seating chart.  If students click on a seating chart when they login, the system can pair them quickly for small group discussion when the instructor feels it would be beneficial.  The instructors setup the parameters such as how many in a group and if the members of the group should have the same or different answers.
If you use a system like this, let us know.  Please share any assignments that have resulted in time savings or engagement in your classroom!

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