Thesis

An action research study using student response systems in an introductory chemistry course at CSU Sacramento

The use of student response systems, commonly known as ‘clickers’, is studied over two
 semesters in Chem 4, an introductory chemical concepts and calculations course at CSU
 Sacramento. While there is an abundance of published literature on the topic of using clickers in
 large enrollment, introductory science courses, the methods are varied and the results are
 inconclusive, yet promising. The proposed benefits from using clickers include increasing
 attendance and supporting more effective constructivist pedagogy via active learning, formative
 assessment and other traits to facilitate student learning. Many authors note the skill required to
 effectively integrate clickers into classroom lectures requires time and practice, as well as the
 myriad of possible uses of clickers. This study employs an active research design over the course
 of two semesters in order to modify the design and use of clickers. Every lecture contained
 between two and seven clickers questions, with each question belonging into one of three basic
 categories; “are you prepared?”, “are you learning?”, or “what do you think?” Data from the first
 semester show how strongly performance and attendance are related, thus several changes were
 made to encourage attendance during the second semester of the study. In addition, changes were
 made to the clicker questions in order to better address student learning, with the desire of having
 v
 students finding more benefit from these questions. The results from this study show that both
 student attendance and student performance improved while using clickers relative to historical
 data. Improvements were most significant during the 2nd semester of this study, supporting the
 idea that using clickers effectively is a skill requiring practice and revisions. Results from this
 study show that clickers can be an effective tool in facilitating greater attendance in large
 enrollment classes by monitoring and rewarding attendance and participation. In addition,
 clickers can be an effective tool in facilitating a more active learning environment relative to
 traditional lecture. This active learning environment may lead to improved student learning as
 well as improved student attendance. Some combination of improved attendance and improved
 pedagogy have led to improved student performance in this study, however the relative impact
 from each is not clear. Finally, the students enjoyed using clickers, saw benefit to their learning
 in Chem 4, and would like to use clickers in more of their courses.

Thesis (M.S., Chemistry)--California State University, Sacramento, 2012.

The use of student response systems, commonly known as ‘clickers’, is studied over two semesters in Chem 4, an introductory chemical concepts and calculations course at CSU Sacramento. While there is an abundance of published literature on the topic of using clickers in large enrollment, introductory science courses, the methods are varied and the results are inconclusive, yet promising. The proposed benefits from using clickers include increasing attendance and supporting more effective constructivist pedagogy via active learning, formative assessment and other traits to facilitate student learning. Many authors note the skill required to effectively integrate clickers into classroom lectures requires time and practice, as well as the myriad of possible uses of clickers. This study employs an active research design over the course of two semesters in order to modify the design and use of clickers. Every lecture contained between two and seven clickers questions, with each question belonging into one of three basic categories; “are you prepared?”, “are you learning?”, or “what do you think?” Data from the first semester show how strongly performance and attendance are related, thus several changes were made to encourage attendance during the second semester of the study. In addition, changes were made to the clicker questions in order to better address student learning, with the desire of having v students finding more benefit from these questions. The results from this study show that both student attendance and student performance improved while using clickers relative to historical data. Improvements were most significant during the 2nd semester of this study, supporting the idea that using clickers effectively is a skill requiring practice and revisions. Results from this study show that clickers can be an effective tool in facilitating greater attendance in large enrollment classes by monitoring and rewarding attendance and participation. In addition, clickers can be an effective tool in facilitating a more active learning environment relative to traditional lecture. This active learning environment may lead to improved student learning as well as improved student attendance. Some combination of improved attendance and improved pedagogy have led to improved student performance in this study, however the relative impact from each is not clear. Finally, the students enjoyed using clickers, saw benefit to their learning in Chem 4, and would like to use clickers in more of their courses.

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