Professor William B. Wood (University of Colorado, Boulder) finds that clickers are a teaching gimmick that actually works in the classroom for improving attendance and participation. As he notes, some of the advantages for students are:
They are answering anonymously—no one has to worry about the possible humiliation of giving a “dumb” answer.
Those who did not “get it” realize they’re not the only ones. In a typical lecture situation, such students are often inhibited from asking a question by the belief that “everyone but me probably understood.”
The students are actively engaged with the topic at hand and, therefore, more likely to understand and retain it better than if they were only sitting passively and listening to the instructor.
As instructors, we can find out immediately if students are not getting a point we are discussing and then explain it in more detail instead of waiting to see this lack of understanding on the next exam.
Additional information on how professors are using clickers in the classroom can be found here:
I am thinking of using clickers in one of my undergrad classes this fall. Anyone have any suggestions or tips to share?