How to Write a Clicker Case Teachers Want to Teach and Students Enjoy
How to Write a Clicker Case Teachers Want to TeachEric RibbensWestern Illinois UniversityDepartment of Biological Sciencesand students enjoy!A bit about meIm a plant ecologist.
meI did a week-long workshop about cases here in 1999.Since then, Ive published or have in press 12 cases in the Buffalo Case Collection, 4 of which are clicker cases. Also some other teaching-related articles.Ive taught workshops about cases and about clickers, and Im editing 49 clicker cases for an NSF grant.
My daughters Samara and NeliSiew
Cases AND ClickersTheory of case teaching:Students remember the concepts longer and betterMore fun for the students (and prof)More like real scientific thinking: problem-solving
Cases AND ClickersTheory of clickers:Instant feedback to students (and professor)Hold their attentionBetter grades and higher student retention!
Cases AND ClickersSo clickers plus cases should be a teaching dream come true, right?
Maybe. But its risky!
The challenge: multitaskingSolving simultaneous challenges:Using casesLarge lecture sectionsUsing clickersWriting powerpoint presentations
Challenges:Cases: Time-consuming to teach?Students struggleWhats the point?I really dont like these cases because they make me think, and Im better at memorizing facts. student evaluation comment
Challenges:Large classes! (when you prefer one-on-one):
Challenges:Clickers:I have to learn ANOTHER piece of technology?How to integrateStudent complaints
Challenges:Powerpoint slide designHave you ever seen a slide with text too small to read? Annoying graphics? Confusing layout? Or boring reams of text? Obscuring background?
Designing effective powerpoints is hard!
Integrating all of thisAnd Im supposed to teach you what? Oh, yes:
How to Write a Clicker Case Teachers Want to Teach and Students Enjoy
Can I do something easy instead like saw students in half?
(the one-sentence take-home message)Integration is the key to success. Need to simultaneously consider presentation, the case concept, how to use clickers, and challenges of managing large classes.
First, why are you doing this?Goals should drive everything. What do you expect to accomplish? A funny story that doesnt teach anything Material that students wont understandMinor concepts Are all recipes forsinking your lessonplan!By the way .What ARE goals?Do your students know the goals? GoalsGroup work: what would be a good goal for a clicker case? Write a goal.Is your goal specific?Measurable?Realistic?Important?
Which set of goals is better?Students be able to read food labels that are found on all packaged food products and describe the contents of the food. Students will be able to use food labels to compare two different food items in terms of nutritional quality.
ORElectron transport: the transfer of electrons through a series of complexes in the mitochondrial inner membrane in order to reduce molecular oxygen to water- Oxidative phosphorylation: the production of ATP by mitochondrial inner membrane enzymes as a result of the transfer of electrons derived from catabolic oxidation- In concert with the passage of electrons along the electron transport chain, protons are pumped outwards, resulting in establishment of an electrochemical gradient - ATP synthesis within mitochondria is normally coupled to electron transport, in that inhibiting either process blocks the other one- Energy for ATP synthesis is directly derived from an electrochemical proton gradient- Situations that uncouple oxidative phosphorylation do so by dissipating or eliminating the proton gradient, so that electron transport continues unabated but ATP synthesis stops- Biological uncoupling by the protein thermogenin is used by organisms to keep warm
The caseGood case rules apply here just as elsewhereWrite a compelling storyWrite a realistic storyIntegrate the case into the entire class: I could show you a case with 4 slides of story, then 30 slides of straight lecture, then 3 clicker questions Set a problem for students to solveHow do you do this for a topic that isnt human biology?Compare these starts of cases:
22In Peter Mitchells LaboratoryDr. Mitchell has taken the American twins Charles and Cheryl into his Glynn Research Lab in Cornwall for the summer as a favor to his neighbors, their aunt and uncle. A few days ago he asked them to do some background reading and information collecting, so that they can understand some of his new research ideas. Well? What have you learned?(and, in subsequent slides, we find out the twins have figured out the entire chemiosmotic theory from their readings, and know every answer)Eric: Part 1He was, his mother always said, the cutest little boy ever, and she had always adored him. So strong, so sturdy, confidently charging through life. At 10, he joined a Little League baseball team, and made the All-Star team in his first year. It wasnt until quite some time later that she realized something was very wrong.
23Read the Case
Part I24Classroom managementKeep it simple!Avoid handouts (I know one clicker case where students have a preclass reading, a worksheet, three pages of information, and get divided a la jigsawsAvoid complicated group designsAvoid tasks that cannot be accomplished without teacher supervisionKeep it interesting!How do you tell the story?
Clicker ManagementUse your clickers to ask different types of questionsFactual identification / recallApplication of a conceptInterest generatingPredictive (collect and hold interest)
DONT see clickers only in the lens of conventional multiple-choice questionsPowerpoint DesignKeep it simpleVisually interestingUse images to tell the concepts whenever possibleI have a case I could show you: 30 slides of text, 7 slides mixed in with images. What do you think?
Look at the next two slides. Which slide works better?Balance ManagementIt is important, during forklift operation, to remember that the entire machine WILL follow its center of gravity. If the operator deliberately or inadvertently shifts some of the mass, such as attempting to lift a heavy object, the forklift will tip, tilt, or otherwise fail to accomplish its intended mission
ORBoss: Well Bob? How the #(*$@ did this happen?
What is sustainability?sustainable: in the human scale of time, is relevant to legitimate human needs, the ability to endure, thrive and regenerate without significant offense to the living systems of the earth.sustainable society: one that satisfies its needs without jeopardizing prospects of future generations.30
Clicker-Case PartnershipIf the case is the framework holding your plans together, clickers are the tool that will make the case work. Some Clicker mistakes:Infrequent use of clickersNot worth pointsOnly for assessment: (my sad story)Use clickers for:Assessment, certainly but also Generating interestApplying conceptsFormative vs. summative learningGetting students to make predictionsConnecting students to subjects(keeping students awake?)
Whats this question?
Is cancer a major health problem in the United States? Choose the answer that is closest to you:I dont know anyone with cancerI know someone who has (had) cancerSomeone in my family has (had) cancerI have (had) cancerI know someone who died from cancer
Clickers and Cases:Its a partnership: use the clickers to pull the case along. Use the case to frame the clickers.
For most people, the most difficult piece:DONT LECTURE! And DONT TELL THE ANSWER! Before telling answers, use a question, and make your question challenging but doable.
The other problem: abandoning the case.Evaluate this:An example: Peas AGAIN?
Watch the Peas case. (Im not saying its good, Im not saying its bad). In groups of two or three, critique it.