Teaching with Classroom Response Systems: Creating Active Learning Environments

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Learning increases when students are appropriately motivated. Motivation for learning tends to increase when learners are engaged in tasks they view as difficult but achievable, in supportive learning environments. Using a CRS allows students to access support as they go, and see their peers succeed, even where they struggle. Ambrose et al , , chapter 3. Many CRS platforms allow for anonymity in responses to question prompts, which encourages participation from students who may not be vocal in a traditional classroom setting.

Question prompts also provide opportunities for everyone in the class to participate, and avoid potentially problematic cold-calling, unlike the traditional question-answer model. This process forces the learners to think through the arguments being developed, and enables them as well as the instructor to assess their understanding of the concepts even before they leave the classroom. Mazur, Low-achieving students often do not respond orally in class as much as high-achieving students.

Reid, Learning increases when it requires recall effort, and when newly acquired skills and knowledge are practiced and used through multiple sessions, over a spaced out period of time. The CRS can be used to do this, by incorporating questions for students that range across course content e. Brown et al , Instructors are able to pose questions that are more meaningful than those a novice might develop on their own. By using a CRS to incorporate questions into the classroom, an instructor can create and sustain an intellectually stimulating learning environment, acknowledging the value of the learner in that environment as you go.

What is a Classroom Response System?

Hake, Per accessibility compliance standards, this page may have links to files that would require the downloading of additional software:. Classroom Response System Pedagogical Purpose. Bruff, Assessment for Learning One of the benefits of the CRS is that it gives us a good way to check on student learning, as they are learning.

Immediate Feedback The CRS allows students to receive immediate feedback on their learning and understanding of concepts, which promotes long term retention of corrected concepts and strategies as they are acquired. Epstein at al , Motivation Learning increases when students are appropriately motivated. Ambrose et al , , chapter 3 Participation Many CRS platforms allow for anonymity in responses to question prompts, which encourages participation from students who may not be vocal in a traditional classroom setting.

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Mazur, Positive Reinforcement Low-achieving students often do not respond orally in class as much as high-achieving students. Reid, Spacing Effect Learning increases when it requires recall effort, and when newly acquired skills and knowledge are practiced and used through multiple sessions, over a spaced out period of time. Brown et al , Socratic Questioning Instructors are able to pose questions that are more meaningful than those a novice might develop on their own.

Norman Bonwell, C. Washington, D. Brown, Peter D.

McDaniel Cambridge, Massachussetts: Harvard University Press. Bruff, D. Teaching with classroom response systems: Creating active learning environments. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Dede, C Jan 2; Epstein, M. Immediate feedback assessment technique promotes learning and corrects inaccurate first responses. The Psychological Record , 4, Active learning increases performance in science, engineering, and mathematics.

Spacing Effects on Implicit Memory Tests. One of my favorite tweets is a student who was walking by a golf course and he noticed the bird song sounded different in different parts of the golf course and in his tweet he conjectured that the golf course itself was dividing bird territory. I love the bird class example. Derek: Does she have a lot of observations about life that she tries to share?

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I have another example from Mark Sample at Davidson College, where he had his students live tweet the film they were watching in his sci-fi class. They watched it on their own time in their own rooms or whatever, but it was Blade Runner and they would live tweet their observations about the film. But he was getting kind of a next level down. They are kind of immediate in the moment reactions to what they were seeing in the film and kind of surfacing that and making that visible.

And this is a great use of technology. What can we do with Twitter and our teaching? But one of those is to surface thin slices of student learning. And that provides some focus for thinking about how you might use Twitter in your class for a very particular purpose. John: It does, and you can see this in other areas of biology or botany.

I think Michelle Miller was on a while back and she talked about a class where students went out in the field to identify plants and tweet back photos and so forth. And part of it is that yes, by making the students tweets visible to the other students, you have this other dynamic going on which is that the students are starting to learn from and with each other.

And so we can leverage that in the classroom. But if you think about all of the different perspectives and experiences that you have in the room with your students, they have a lot to bring and they can actually learn a lot from each other and you can learn a lot from your students. And by making that visible, they can start to learn from each other.

In my chapter I talk about, I use a social bookmarking tool called Diigo, which allows basically students to share links with each other. And so we create a group for a class and I give them these assignments, in my cryptography class especially. I had one student—bless her heart—she loved Russia, she found a way to find a Russian connection to everything that she did.

They can help each other out. But sometimes—you never know—some other lurker might pop in and help out. And they have some sort of vested interest, you know, because they were also in that class at one time. When students are first learning a topic or a discipline, they need a private space to practice, and screw up, and say dumb things, and get feedback, and get better. But when we have students construct work or produce work for authentic audiences outside of the course, that can be hugely motivating for students.

Hugely motivating. That can be really powerful as well. One of my favorite examples, Jonathan Rattner teaches cinema and media arts here at Vanderbilt and he had connected with a colleague of his from grad school who was teaching a writing course, Bridget Draxler, she was at another institution. Jonathan was teaching students how to create short experimental films and they needed an audience to share that work with.

Bridget was teaching her students to critique media and she wanted her students to find media to critique where they could interact with the creator, and so they just set up a course blog for the two of them, these two courses.

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And this idea of connecting your course, with just one other course—somewhere else on your campus or maybe at another institution where you have colleagues working—all of a sudden, you have this really authentic audience for the work. This is actually becoming increasingly common in higher education where you have students write for Wikipedia. He was actually teaching an introduction to Portuguese course—so this was first semester Portuguese language learners—and what they realized was that the Portuguese language page for Nashville on Wikipedia was very skimpy.

Portuguese speakers create their own Wikipedia.

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And so the national page was kind of skimpy. So as a class project, he had his students create content for the Portuguese language Wikipedia page for the city where we are.

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And so it was great as a language production task for them because they could focus on writing two or three sentences, first semester language learners, but they knew that actual people are going to look at this so they took it very seriously. Some of them went above and beyond. I think this is just a really powerful pedagogy.

Having students use some technology to create something for an authentic audience can be really powerful. Rebecca: Which, you know, technology is also really good at that whole multimodal thing, right?

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So the matching hypothesis would say that I have some visual learners and some verbal learners and some kinesthetic learners and so I should do visual stuff with the visual learners and verbal stuff with the verbal learners and kinesthetic stuff with the kinesthetic learners. Now, we all learn better when we encounter stuff in multiple ways.

We call it students as producers. This is kind of a course design and assignment design approach that we work a lot with here through our course design institute and elsewhere. And so actually, this chapter is kind of all Vanderbilt examples which sounds a little self-serving, but I just happen to know a lot of faculty here who are experimenting a lot in this area. So it starts off as a traditional paper but they have to revise it as a Prezi or a concept map or choose your own adventure novel, or one student did a Pinterest pin board. Now I know how things have to be connected.

So I got this idea from Gilbert Gonzales, a colleague of mine here in health policy, who had his students create podcast episodes instead of research papers. And he really wanted them to be fluent with the language of healthcare policy. And so an audio assignment made a lot of sense, actually, for the students.

And podcasting is a low bar, right? And so, again, all of these are about kind of moving to different modalities and shifting between modalities to help students see and understand the material in different ways. John: I would think it would force them to think about it a bit more deeply to make connections that they might not otherwise.

Just seeing things from a different perspective seems to have a lot of value in it. Derek: Yeah. And so moving to a non-traditional assignment often then helps faculty move back to more traditional assignments with a new lens with greater intentionality. Rebecca: So we have to wait until November to get this book?