Clickers for assessing a Health and Safety Module

Patricia Ennis: Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences Lecturer

The class group is comprised of year 2 science students (4 x class groups) enrolled on a level 7 programme (110 students). The module component in health and safety is assessed during class time. There is a mark allocation for attendance.  Previously the module material was examined with 2 in-class open-book exams.

It was envisaged that the clickers would be used:-

  1. To automatically register attendance
  2. To replace the open book exam with in-lecture clicker tests.

Clickers for assessing a Health and Safety Module

There was a delay in receiving the clickers at the start of semester so some topics were examined with the open-book approach. This was advantageous as students experienced both types of assessment (Clickers and open book). The students were asked about their preference for assessment approach at the end of the module.

Corrections of the open book exam took 6 hrs. There is a big time-saving to be gained if this can be done electronically with clickers.

In the second half of the semester the clickers were used to register students and for assessment.

Clickers and Automatic registration of students: The students were registered midway through the lecture (9 am class and a number of students arrive late!), this was a fast and efficient process.

Findings from using Clickers to examine material delivered in 3 classes

  • The amount of material delivered in the ‘clicker’ classes was less than in a normal lecture.
  • Students who did not attend the lecture were doubly penalised (No attendance and No clicker result)
  • Topics covered in health and safety  are easily examined using the clickers.
  • Students achieved on average 32% less marks on the clicker component of the examination relative to the open book exam 1.
  • It was difficult to include questions for which there was a mark allocated and questions for which there was no mark allocated within the one session.
  • It was easy to identify if there was a specific concept with which the students had a difficulty.
  • A number of students arrived at the class without a copy of their presentation which had  been provided on webcourses.dit.ie (DIT virtual learning environment) and this presented serious difficulties when presented with ‘clicker questions’

Findings from Clicker Survey

The students were surveyed after using the clickers to gauge their opinions.

  1. The majority of students liked to use clickers in class and thought that getting instant feedback was beneficial
  2. The students seem to be confident that their attendance in class was recorded accurately. However a significant proportion were not fully assured that the assessment answers would be recorded accurately by the clicker system.
  3. Using clickers for assessment was not popular amongst the students and as they preferred the open-book exam in preference to using the clickers at the module end.
  4. The students were asked about their opinion on whether the clickers should record their attendance for class. 42 % said that it encouraged them to attend class.

Conclusion
Overall using the clickers was a good learning experience for the students and myself. It has the potential to reduce the workload for correction and attendance monitoring. Clickers provide instant feedback to students relevant to their learning. With the large group it provided for a level of engagement which was absent when the module was delivered in previous years.  I plan to continue to use them again for registering attendance of students and for assessments in the future.

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About Muireann O'Keeffe

I am an educational developer currently working at DCU. I have a passion for researching and evaluating technology that can support and enhance learning. In the past I have taught on Masters programmes (Msc Applied elearning & Postgraduate Diploma in Third level Learning and Teaching) as well as Leadership development programmes.
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