Feb 19, 2020

Students clicking into classrooms

There are several models of clickers on sale at the Kennel Bookstore, including E-Instruction’s CPS. Burgess said about a dozen classes on campus are currently using clickers.
Photo illustration by
Juan Villa / The Collegian

Students will now able to interact and be more involved in class lectures with the new Classroom Performance System (CPS).

CPS includes a hand-held clicker device for students to use in class and on tests. It is connected to a system professors have on their computer and immediately provides feedback to both students and teachers.

Each hand-held device lets students answer questions projected on a screen, promoting more focus and participation, said John Burgess, education specialist with E-Instruction, which makes CPS. It runs off AA batteries and provides enhanced learning opportunities for students and instructors, Burgess said.

“The system provides feedback from students instantaneously,” he said.

Multiple choice questions, true/false or numerical answers can be given on the spot during a class lecture. The system is integrated through Microsoft’s Power Point and questions can be programmed into the presentation or made on the spot. Professors now have the ability to know if students really understand what they are being taught.

When a student uses their clicker, the answer is automatically registered and charted on the teachers’ computer. This information can then be shared with the class, Burgess said. Color-coded graphs can be displayed showing the ratio of answers for each question. The students can see what the correct answer was, and if the majority of the class got the answer wrong, the teacher can explain the concept more, promoting better learning and retention.

CPS can be used for test taking along with in-class lectures. A hard copy of a test can be given to each student, but instead of filling in answers on a scantron, they can use their clicker. The answers are programmed into the computer and tests are automatically graded, Burgess said.

“Scantrons will no longer be needed, and with everyone going green, this is the kind of technology we need,” he said.

CPS is directly linked to Blackboard, so students can get results right away.

This system has been going through a pilot phase on campus with the University 1 class for incoming freshmen since fall 2007. With over 220 students in the class last semester, CPS gave each student in the class the ability to communicate their responses to questions posted on the board.

Students were required to show up and participate in class and received points for their efforts, said David Ross, acting director of University 1. Bonus questions would randomly show up on the screen and students would get points for answering the questions right, which encouraged them to pay closer attention.

“Students tend to arrive on time for each lecture because they are aware that they can only earn points that count toward their final grade in the course by being present in class each session to use their clickers,” Ross said.

Ross did, however, encounter some problems with CPS failing and students’ batteries running out. Ross said he learned to remind students to carry a back-up set of batteries with them to class.

“Unfortunately it’s a reality that whenever any new procedure is implemented, there may be bugs to the system,” he said. “During the second year of the University 1 CPS pilot project, equipment problems should not occur.”

Burgess said that students today learn electronically. They are multitaskers and classrooms should be keeping up with the technology around us.

“The clickers hold the students’ attention,” Burgess said.

Ross agreed that students live in “an era of enhanced opportunities” and learning through electronic means is a part of the times.
“The integration of electronic clicker responses into smart classrooms provides a degree of interactivity that students should expect at an up-to-date institution,” he said.

Robert Fire, nursing professor, has just started using the CPS technology this semester and feels that it will be a helpful contribution to student learning.

“The opportunity to allow students to interact in my lectures afford me, and them, the opportunity to change my teaching from an approach of information banking whereby I supposedly deposit information into the heads of my students; to a learning environment where I can facilitate true learning,” Fire said.

Many K-12 schools have been using similar technology for some time now, said Burgess. Teachers need to be familiar with the technology because it is what future students will be expecting.

Agriculture education instructor, Steve Rocca, would like to see the CPS clickers in his classrooms. He teaches a class which prepares future instructors how to teach agriculture to high school students.

“The new generation has advanced with the new technology and engaging students gets harder and harder everyday,” he said.

Not all students are excited about the new technology, Burgess said. It requires them to interact and show up to class, but for the students that do want to learn, it seems to be a big help.

The CPS can be bought for $56 in the bookstore right now with a lifetime warranty.

Since the school has not standardized with CPS, some instructors are using different versions of similar systems. With standardization, the cost for students would be cut and students would not have to worry about buying more than one clicker for different classes.

CPS can be used in multiple classes at a time, and information is erased at the end of a semester so it can be sold back to the bookstore, to another student, or reused the next semester, Burgess said.

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