Valerie Hascoet, DIT School of Languages
I used the clickers this semester with a group of second year students from the B.A. in Hospitality Management as part of their third French module. I focussed on the skill of listening comprehension, which in turn underpins the student’s performance in their oral competence. My aim was basically to transfer the worksheets I had been using in class to perform listening exercises, into interactive Turning Point slide shows. My expectations were three-fold:
- To ensure that every student participated in the activities as the clickers allow you to monitor how many participants actually respond to the quizzes;
- To provide the students with immediate feedback on their individual performance by displaying the group’s overall results;
- To generate discussion within the group and with the lecturer as to the reasons of their occasional (!) underperformance.
Moreover the clickers would introduce a playful atmosphere for about 10 minutes in each session in which they were used.
I stuck to my goal of producing the clickers for every teaching hour I had with the group, so 10 slide shows were produced over the course of the semester. However I limited the use of the clickers to one activity per session, as opening the correct files, distributing the clickers and (attempting to) register the students (cf. below) took about 4 minutes of each class. I continued to use worksheets on occasion alongside the clickers.
There were technical glitches due to the fact that I was handling several technologies at the one time: a CD or .mp3 file for the audio material, then the Turning Point questionnaires, then the transcripts as word documents for the correction phase. I will be less ambitious next time!
Overall I found the system easy to design with and easy to use…up to the point when the classroom computer was upgraded to Word 10. From there on the Turning Point software had to reinstalled and malfunctioned every week, refusing to register the students initially, then to register their clicking at all in the last 2 sessions. I have yet to figure out why.
I experimented with various types of questionnaires, and became increasingly ambitious with each new session, graduating from simple “True or False” exercises to multiple choices with 3, and then 4 entries. I would like to try out Likert scales next, but the material I was converting did not lend itself to it. Indeed I found out that transferring my paper-based exercises to a multiple-choice framework sometimes stretched my imagination.
In doing so I progressed from testing the particular skill of listening comprehension (my original goal) to introducing the odd question about spelling/ grammar/ vocabulary/ culture, even pronunciation, which is paradoxical when using a written medium.
The added value in running questionnaires through using the clickers is in reaching goals number 1 and 2, without a doubt. In an informal assessment of the impact of the clickers on the classroom, students immediately reported that they felt more motivated into participating in the activities because of the competitive aspect it introduced.
However I am less satisfied with the reflective aspect of our interactions in class. The clickers did not always generate discussion. Indeed the interaction was very uneven from week to week. Unfortunately the technology cannot solve the problems students have in analysing their performance, identifying their weaknesses and working out solutions for their language learning.