Skip to content Skip to navigation Skip to collection information

OpenStax-CNX

You are here: Home » Content » Clicker Resource Guide » Dealing with unexpected stituations

Navigation

Recently Viewed

This feature requires Javascript to be enabled.
 

Dealing with unexpected stituations

Module by: CU Science Education Intiative, UBC Carl Weiman Science Education Initiative. E-mail the authors

Summary: This module covers different strategies for dealing with unexpected situations that may arise from clicker use.

An instructor who has not used clickers before may encounter three novel situations. These can be positive experiences if you are ready for them and respond accordingly, but can be quite negative if you are not.

  1. 1) You have given the clearest explanation you know how, yet it is obvious from responses to a clicker question that students are not getting it. When you try to give up and go on, students respond assertively, saying that it is obvious they don’t understand this and you need to teach it right before going on.

In dealing with this situation, the most important thing to keep in mind is that it happens, so be prepared for it and don’t panic. Recognize that it is not entirely negative; it indicates that students are taking much more responsibility for their learning and setting higher expectations for learning than in a traditional course. Chastising the class for being unprepared, stupid, or inattentive (even if some of this is true) produces quite negative reactions. If you find yourself unable to figure out in real time how to clarify the point by presenting it in a different way, try to find a student in the class who can clarify and/or address their confusion. If that fails, then just admit to the class that you are stuck, and say you will return to this point in the next class after more thought. Encourage the students to do the same. Then make sure you do return to the topic as promised.

  1. 2) You are asked a question that is sufficiently deep that you do not know the answer. A good clicker question and discussion generates far more and deeper questions from students than encountered in a non-clicker class, so this is a much more likely occurrence when using clickers.

Deal with this as in case 1. Admit you do not know the answer, say that you will research the subject to try to figure out the answer by next class, and encourage the students to do the same. At start of next class, see if any students came up with the answer, and if not provide the answer you figured out. It is particularly valuable if you are quite explicit in explaining what was challenging about the question, and how you went about finding out or figuring out the answer. This models expert thinking in a way students very seldom get to see and they often find quite memorable when it is displayed in cases like this. Of course, explicitly modeling expert problem solving in this way is also beneficial when answering clicker questions, but it is seldom as memorable for students as when there is a question they saw you could not answer initially.

  1. 3) There are so many good questions that you do not see how you can answer them and come close to getting through all the material you planned to cover that day.

Again, this should be seen as a positive event. The best indicator of a good clicker question is probably how many thoughtful follow up questions it generates. For this case of “too many” questions, the first thing you should do is analyze how many of the students are asking questions. If it is a relatively small number and they are the students who frequently ask questions, it is likely rest of class will be annoyed if too much time is spent on answering questions from that group. Then it is best to tell those students you will talk with them individually after class or during your office hours, and move on. However, if you have a situation that is fairly unique to clicker classes, where there are questions from many students, including those who do not ask frequent questions, you should remember that when a substantial fraction of the class is interested and asking questions, they will learn much more from what you tell them in response to those questions at that time than anything else you can teach them. Also remind yourself that their interest in and learning of the subject is more important than your covering the topics in the order and pace you had originally planned. So adjust your lesson accordingly in real time.

Collection Navigation

Content actions

Download:

Collection as:

PDF | EPUB (?)

What is an EPUB file?

EPUB is an electronic book format that can be read on a variety of mobile devices.

Downloading to a reading device

For detailed instructions on how to download this content's EPUB to your specific device, click the "(?)" link.

| More downloads ...

Module as:

PDF | More downloads ...

Add:

Collection to:

My Favorites (?)

'My Favorites' is a special kind of lens which you can use to bookmark modules and collections. 'My Favorites' can only be seen by you, and collections saved in 'My Favorites' can remember the last module you were on. You need an account to use 'My Favorites'.

| A lens I own (?)

Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

| External bookmarks

Module to:

My Favorites (?)

'My Favorites' is a special kind of lens which you can use to bookmark modules and collections. 'My Favorites' can only be seen by you, and collections saved in 'My Favorites' can remember the last module you were on. You need an account to use 'My Favorites'.

| A lens I own (?)

Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

| External bookmarks