Clickers in the Classroom at Columbia Business School

The clicker— a staple of game shows and conferences everywhere—is also proving a hit at Columbia Business School, where classroom use started with a pilot program in fall 2008.

Some professors have introduced clickers because these keypad devices allow students to instantly and anonymously answer questions. Rather than have classroom discussions dominated by a vocal few, clickers ensure that the entire class’s thoughts are heard.

Also, the school says clickers provoke student discussion by providing snapshots of students’ views on provocative questions and gauge the class’s ability in a non-test format ”“ thus allowing professors to streamline their teaching. For example, if 35% of the class answers a question incorrectly, the professor may consider revisiting the material.

Columbia Business School student Corey Robins tells The Village Voice the clickers have been very helpful. By allowing professors to call up pie charts of student opinions and even play interactive games, he says, “it quickly and painlessly gathers and condenses data into a form that the class can easily digest.”

When students reported participating and engaging more, Chris Bellerjeau, director of multimedia services, says the school decided to make clickers part of the standard equipment for all incoming students last fall. Receivers (at about $100 apiece) have been installed in all 26 classrooms. It’s still up to individual instructors whether to use the clickers; currently, about 10 percent actively use them.

(photo credit: Flickr user Anna’s Photos, CC 2.0)

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