Revisiting Clickers: In-Class Questions Followed by At-Home Reflections Are Associated with Higher Student Performance on Related Exam Questions


Clicker questions are a commonly used active learning technique that stimulates student interactions to help advance understanding of key concepts. Clicker questions are often administered with an initial vote, peer discussion, and a second vote, followed by broader classroom explanation. While clickers can promote learning, some studies have questioned whether students maintain this performance on later exams, highlighting the need to further understand how student answer patterns relate to their understanding of the material and to identify ways for clickers to benefit a broader range of students. Systematic requizzing of concepts during at-home assignments represents a promising mechanism to improve student learning. Thus, we paired clicker questions with at-home follow-up reflections to help students articulate and synthesize their understandings. This pairing of clickers with homework allowed us to decipher how student answer patterns related to their underlying conceptions and to determine if revisiting concepts provided additional benefits. We found that students answering both clicker votes correctly performed better on isomorphic exam questions and that students who corrected their answers after the first vote did not show better homework or exam performance than students who maintained an incorrect answer across both votes. Furthermore, completing the follow-up homework assignment modestly boosted exam question performance. Our data suggest that longer-term benefits of clickers and associated homework may stem from students having repeated opportunities to retrieve, refine, and reinforce emerging conceptions.

Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education