Monty Hall problem and other ACTIVE LEARNING STUFF time preference






4.  Use clickers for real-time experiments on the students.

This works best in psychology classes, or some course where you want to demonstrate some fundamental aspect of human behavior.  One of the best ones that I’ve seen in this genre is listed below, which demonstrates our innate tendency to prefer immediate rewards.

5.  Use clickers to gather real-time data that students perform.

Sometimes having a few students performing a quick little experiment isn’t necessarily that compelling, but if you can aggregate data from the whole class then you have a powerful tool for demonstrating a principle or an outcome.  For example, if you want to demonstrate that flipping two coins results in a greater probability of getting a head and a tail than two heads or two tails, it’s pretty boring to have students sit there and do 50 coin flips to get a robust result.  But, if instead, you have each student do their own coin flip, and then click in with their results, you can get a real-time histogram that shows authentic data demonstrating that idea.

A fabulous article on using this technique with students to demonstrate the Monty Hall Problem (a nice statistics problem) was just published in The Physics Teacher. Students were able to perfectly replicate the theoretical prediction as a whole class, running the experiment in pairs.  It’s a free download, so check it out.

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Categories: Classroom Response Systems, Higher Education, K12, Peer Instruction
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Handouts and recording for January 4th Webinar: Make Clickers Work for You

posted: January 5, 2012 by Stephanie Chasteen


I gave a webinar this week to what shaped up to be a huge group (almost 500 registrants, a record for me!). This is my introduction to clickers and peer instruction talk. We’ve also hosted webinars  on writing clicker questions and effective facilitation techniques, but this webinar is my quick all-in-one overview.

There are two downloads

You can also download the Instructor’s Guide to the Effective Use of Clickers, created by my group, for free at our resource page: Materials from our past workshops are there too, as well as outline materials you can use for your own clicker workshops.

Feel free to post questions or comments about the webinar in the comments section!

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Categories: Classroom Response Systems
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Do they do the reading? Helping students prepare for lecture

posted: December 28, 2011 by Stephanie Chasteen


Since my last post on the Flipped Classroom, I’ve stumbled across enough particularly good resources on a similar topic to merit a follow-up post.  The idea behind the Flipped Classroom is that classtime is better spent in helping students to apply ideas (e.g., working problems, doing labs, or in other words making sense of the content) rather than in the traditional lecture content-delivery mode.  So, students watch mini recorded lectures at home to get the content, and then spend class time applying the ideas, with the teacher as a coach.  You can see more about this technique on the previous posts, or at Learning4Mastery. In this post, I will talk about ways to help students use pre-lecture time to adequately prepare for class — whether you’re using a flipped classroom model or not — and the research behind some of those techniques.

Have student reading habits changed?

It’s a common complaint:  Students don’t read the book before class.  It’s probably equally true in the humanities, but my main experience is in the sciences.  Science textbooks are dense, full of extraneous diagrams and pictures, and it’s a real challenge for an introductory student to muddle their way through all that information to try to extract useful information from it.  So most don’t bother — they go to class to see what content the professor thinks is important, and then use the textbook to help them to do the homework and guide their exam studying.  But this constrains us to use class in content-delivery mode: If students don’t know the first thing about Newton’s Laws, then how can we do anything in class other than tell them about Newton’s Laws?


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