Sankaranarayanan hopes to encourage clicker use.
the Gauntlet

Clickers in the classroom can help

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Students' Union art faculty representative Bhuvana Sankaranarayanan is hoping to engage more students in the classroom by incorporating clickers -- an e-learning tool -- into their curriculum.

"A lot of students within the faculty of arts are in large, 150-plus person classes, especially within their first and second years," said Sankaranarayanan. "These classes are often impersonal and professors find it hard to involve students."

Sankaranarayanan plans to increase awareness of clicker efficiency in the classroom by presenting to the Teaching and Learning Committee.

"I know they use them in science a lot and the students find them [to be] a very useful tool," said faculty of arts associate dean academic and Teaching and Learning Committee chair Mary Polito.

The committee includes representatives from all departments in the faulty of arts.

"The goal is to help the large faculty become aware of all the teaching strategies and methods across the faculty, as all the faculties are very different with different methods and practices," said Polito.

Sankaranarayanan said clickers are not used in the arts faculty as often as in sciences, in part because the model of clicker is not standardized.

"With various types of clickers, asking student to buy different clickers every time that they take a different class seems unreasonable," said Sankaranarayanan.

Polito will distribute a survey in the arts faculty to get professor feedback on the use of clickers in the classroom.

"Students feel more involved in the class as a result of this interactive tool," said Sankaranarayanan. "This allows professors to get immediate feedback about the things that students do and do not know . . . and students do not walk out with poor comprehension of the topic."

Second-year communications major Brittany Anderson has not used a clicker but does see the potential benefit.

"It makes it more interactive in a sense and forces you to participate. For me, personally interacting would be a benefit."

"Clickers help student who don't typically like to put up their hand," said SU vice-president academic Alyssa Stacey.

She noted this tool is better for larger classes.

"I do think they are useful in the classroom if they are used properly," said Stacey. "Professors need to look over their classes and see how they can incorporate different types of technology into their classroom to enhance learning."

A deterrent for the use of clickers is expense said Stacey.

"Students may have issues with the clickers because they may be expensive and if they are not used for credit or not used frequently, students don't see them being relevant and they are just upset they had to buy this clicker," said Stacey.

Clickers are between $30-$50 at the University of Calgary bookstore.

"I already pay $500 for books for one class, why would I want to pay more for a piece of plastic," said Anderson.

Sankaranarayanan is trying to help standardize the type of clicker used within the faculty by making recommendations to the Teaching and Learning Committee.

She would like to see a "clicker bank" where professors can borrow clickers for their classes.

"It would be nice to have the availability of clickers to hand out it class and hand them back in if a professor just really wants to use clickers to promote engagement instead of having it for credit," said Stacey.

However, instructors may have to redesign classes to integrate clickers more effectively.

"But classes will be better quality as a result," said Sankaranarayanan.

Polito is still unsure about the efficiency of clickers in the classroom.

"I think we need more input from our colleagues," she said.

Sankaranarayanan thinks the clickers are useful.

"I have been in an arts class where clickers were used," said Sankaranarayanan. "I did find it helpful and I think many of my peers feel the same way."