How to Write a Clicker Case Teachers Want to Teach and students enjoy! Eric Ribbens Western Illinois University Department of Biological Sciences
A bit about me… • I’m a plant ecologist.
me • I did a week-long workshop about cases here in 1999. • Since then, I’ve published or have in press 12 cases in the Buffalo Case Collection, 4 of which are clicker cases. Also some other teaching-related articles. • I’ve taught workshops about cases and about clickers, and I’m editing 49 clicker cases for an NSF grant.
Cases AND Clickers • Theory of case teaching: • Students remember the concepts longer and better • More fun for the students (and prof) • More like “real” scientific thinking: problem-solving
Cases AND Clickers • Theory of clickers: • Instant feedback to students (and professor) • Hold their attention • Better grades and higher student retention!
Cases AND Clickers • So clickers plus cases should be a teaching dream come true, right?
The challenge: multitasking • Solving simultaneous challenges: • Using cases • Large lecture sections • Using clickers • Writing powerpoint presentations
Challenges: • Cases: • Time-consuming to teach? • Students struggle • What’s the point? • “I really don’t like these cases because they make me think, and I’m 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 integrate • Student complaints
Challenges: • Powerpoint slide design • Have 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 this… • And I’m 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 doesn’t teach anything • Material that students won’t understand • Minor concepts • Are all recipes for sinking your lesson plan! By the way …. What ARE goals? Do your students know the goals?
Goals • Group 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. OR
Electron 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 case • Good case rules apply here just as elsewhere • Write a compelling story • Write a realistic story • Integrate 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 solve • How do you do this for a topic that isn’t human biology? • Compare these starts of cases:
In Peter Mitchell’s Laboratory • Dr. 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 1 • He 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 wasn’t until quite some time later that she realized something was very wrong.
Read the Case Part I
Classroom management • Keep 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 jigsaws… • Avoid complicated group designs • Avoid tasks that cannot be accomplished without teacher supervision • Keep it interesting! • How do you tell the story?
Clicker Management • Use your clickers to ask different types of questions • Factual identification / recall • Application of a concept • Interest generating • Predictive (collect and hold interest) DON’T see clickers only in the lens of conventional multiple-choice questions
Powerpoint Design • Keep it simple • Visually interesting • Use images to tell the concepts whenever possible • I 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 Management • It 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 … OR
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.
Clicker-Case Partnership • If 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 clickers • Not worth points • Only for assessment: (my sad story)
Use clickers for: • Assessment, certainly but also … • Generating interest • Applying concepts • Formative vs. summative learning • Getting students to make predictions • Connecting students to subjects • (keeping students awake?)
Is cancer a major health problem in the United States? Choose the answer that is closest to you: • I don’t know anyone with cancer • I know someone who has (had) cancer • Someone in my family has (had) cancer • I have (had) cancer • I know someone who died from cancer
Clickers and Cases: • It’s a partnership: use the clickers to pull the case along. Use the case to frame the clickers. • For most people, the most difficult piece: • DON’T LECTURE! And DON’T 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. (I’m not saying it’s good, I’m not saying it’s bad). In groups of two or three, critique it.