A Study of the Implementation of Interactive Lecture Demonstrations Using i>Clickers

Sarah Johnson

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Sarah Johnson, Department of Physics

Project team: Shannon Shen, research assistant

Timeframe: Fall 2011

Funding: $2,400

Course addressed: PHYS 102 – Physics for the Life Sciences II

Poster presentation: View a poster (PDF) describing this project from the 2012 Symposium on Teaching and Learning.

Description: This project studies the combined effect of a lecture method and teaching technology: the Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (ILDs) and i>Clickers respectively.

Interactive Lecture Demonstrations in Physics (ILDs) were developed by David Sokoloff and Ronald Thornton in order to improve the conceptual understanding of students in large first-year lecture courses in physics [1].  This teaching method makes lecture demonstrations interactive by asking students to record predictions about the outcome of the experiment shown and discuss predictions with classmates.  After the experiment is performed the students are asked to compare the results with their predictions and attempt to explain what happened and why.  I have used this method in past courses.

In 2009, I begin using i>Clickers in PHYS 102. An i>Clicker is a personal response system that enables students to respond to multiple-choice questions posed by the instructor during class. There is a great deal of evidence to indicate that using a personal response system in a large lecture class shows measurable improvements in learning [2 and 3].

In this study I will combine ILDs and i>Clickers in PHYS 102.  In addition, I will be using multiple-choice i>Clicker questions from Dr. Sokoloff.  One of his goals is to examine how the gains experienced by other users of ILDs such as myself compare to those he sees in his classes.  In order to make a comparison of ILD use with and without i>Clickers at SFU, several questions based on the ILDs will be included on the final exam. These questions will be identical to questions asked on the Fall 2007 PHYS 102 final exam, which did not use i>Clickers. The scores students obtain on these questions will be analyzed to look for any significant differences between the two times.  In order to gauge student reaction to the use of ILDs with i>Clickers two additional questions will be asked on the course evaluation.  One question will be the same question asked on the 2007 course evaluation about their experience with ILDs and the second will be the same question asked on the 2009 course evaluation about their experience with i>Clickers. The goals here are to determine whether the students see the ILDs as similarly beneficial when i>Clickers are used and to determine if the ILDs have any impact on the students’ perceived value of i>Clicker use in class.

[1] Sokoloff, David R. and Ronald K. Thornton. 2004. Interactive Lecture Demonstrations, Active Learning in Introductory Physics. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

[2] Mazur E. 1997. Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

[3] Wieman C. and K. Perkins. 2005. Transforming Physics Education. Physics Today  5811: 36–41.

Questions addressed:

  • What is the impact on learning using i>Clickers and ILDs together?
  • Are there any differences in learning between courses and between applications?
  • Are the learning gains achieved with ILDs using iClickers to register student responses comparable to those achieved with paper-based, open-ended responses?
  • Are the gains achieved by Sokoloff’s classes comparable to those achieved by the classes of secondary users of his method?
  • How does the integration of iClickers affect students’ perceptions of the benefits of ILDs?
  • Conversely, how does the integration of ILDs and iClickers affect the perceived value they assign to iClicker use?

Knowledge sharing: The results of this study were shared both internally at SFU and with the broader physics teaching community.  A poster describing this study and my results was presented at the 2012 SFU Symposium on Teaching and Learning. The same poster was presented at the 2012 Canadian Association of Physics Congress held at the University of Calgary. In addition, presentations on this study were given at the Dean's Council and at the Teaching & Learning Social in January 2013.

Johnson, S., & Shen, S. (2012, May). A study of the implementation of interactive lecture demonstrations using iClickers. Poster session presented at the Symposium on Teaching and Learning: Leading Change @SFU, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.

Johnson, S., & Shen, S. (2012, June). A study of the implementation of interactive lecture demonstrations using iClickers. Poster presented at the meeting of the Canadian Association of Physicists Congress, Calgary, AB.