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Sunday, May 15, 2005
  Intersting, I can see why this working in building student interaction/attention/attendance
Wired News: No Wrong Answer: Click It: "Several times each class, Cheit's students answer his questions using handheld wireless devices that resemble television remote controls. The devices, which the students call 'clickers,' are being used on hundreds of college campuses and are even finding their way into grade schools.

They alter classroom dynamics, engaging students in large, impersonal lecture halls with the power of mass feedback. Clickers ease fears of giving a wrong answer in front of peers, or of expressing unpopular opinions.

'I use it to take their pulse,' Cheit said. 'I've often found in that setting, you find yourself thinking, 'Well, what are they thinking?''

In hard science classes, the clickers -- most of which allow several possible responses -- are often used to gauge student comprehension of course material. Cheit tends to use them to solicit students' opinions.

The clickers are an effective tool for spurring conversation, for getting a feel for what other students think, said Megan Schmidt, a freshman from New York City.

'It forces you to be active in the discussion because you are forced to make a decision right off the bat,' said Jonathan Magaziner, a sophomore in Cheit's class.

Cheit prepares most questions in advance but can add questions on the fly if need be. His setup processes student responses through infrared receivers that are connected to a laptop computer.

Clickers increased class participation and improved attendance after Stephen Bradforth, a professor at the University of Southern California, introduced them to an honors chemistry class there last fall, he said.

Bradforth uses the clickers to get a sense of whether students are grasping the material and finds that they compel professors to think about their lesson plans differently. He says it's too early to say whether students who used the clickers are doing better on standardized tests.

Eric Mazur, a Harvard University physics professor"
 
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