On April 24th, Ed Hubbard from Educational Psychology shared a learning sciences perspective on using the TopHat student response system to keep students engaged in lectures. We saw a variety of examples and had a chance to make our own! Finally, he unpacked the underlying pedagogy.
Check out the video:
And the Q&A session:
Consider these takeaways:
- There’s a distinction between studying (information encoding into long term memory) and testing (information retrieval from long term memory). The problem in learning is mostly about retrieval!
- Use of Student Response Systems (SRS) for frequent low-stakes formative assessment increases Information Retrieval, which is much more effective in reinforcing learning than less-frequent, higher-stakes summative assessments (e.g. mid-terms, finals).
- In order for SRS to improve grades significantly, they must be used for ~20% of grade; less than 10% and all you get are student complaints — “attendance can be increased if clicker points are worth just 10% of the course grade (Caldwell, unpublished observations). Other instructors, however, report that when clickers contribute 5% or less to the course grade, their effect on attendance remains negligible.” (in Caldwell, Jane E. 2007. “Clickers in the Large Classroom: Current Research and Best-Practice Tips.” CBE—Life Sciences Education Journal Vol. 6, Spring, page 13).
- Choose questions that challenge students and inspire peer conversations. If questions are dumb students feel insulted.
If you’re interested in getting up and running with TopHat, try stepping through the TopHat worksheet we created for this session.
The School of Nursing has posted some resources about TopHat as well, including a screencast overview of how to use it.