Blogging from The Tenth Southern Hemisphere Conference on the Teaching and Learning of Undergraduate Mathematics and Statistics

Karin Bothma – image taken from here.

Live blogging: Note that these are notes I’ve taken live, but will edit this today into a more readable format. I want to put this up straight away though to see if I have any obvious misunderstanding.

First time using clickers to teach mathematics.

Background: Large undegrad classes: 900 students for classes between 70 and 400.

High impact module (foundational)

Objective was successful learning.

Use clickers to promote active participation in class

Clickers are classroom communication system

Students used the clicker to respond to multiple choice questions on a screen

Class distribution of answers then displayed

To meaningfully influence student learning, clickers must be used skillfully…(Beatty, 2004)

Aim of the study:

How we do we design the questions appropriately.

Examine principles for effective use of clickers

CCS (classroom communication system) based pedagogy

Clicker questions: Designed with goals in mind:

  1. Content goal-concept or concepts
  2. Process goal – cognitive skill
  3. Metacognitive goal-  beliefs about mathematics


  1. Focus student attention (comparative questions)
  2. Encourage cognitive processes (compare and contrast)
  3. Encourage debate (set a question to highlight assumptions)
  4. Provide opportunity for feedback

Questions that initiate discussion: shows a wide distribution in the answer histogram

Class discussion is essential for effective use in mathematics classroom (Kenwright, 2009)


  • TurningPoint: Voting within Powerpoint
  • Clickers with multiple choice capability
  • Each lecturer could set 3 questions per week
  • Questionnaire on students’ experience distributed

Experience of lecturers:

  • Setting multiple choice questions was not a challenge
  • Intentionally designing and planning questions was difficult
  • Time constraints or technical problems (sometimes questions not used)
  • Practice of separate question and answer slides

Class discussion was based on how the students got the questions wrong

Misconceptions often illuminated

Metacognitive goals: Relational understanding

Experience of students: Students strongly agreed that clickers contribute to their learning, and that it improved their active participation

They found that clickers made the students aware of their own understanding.

Beatty: Some students might underestimate the value of clicker questions, students must be aware that the purpose of clicker questions is to promote learning, not to evaluate.


Clickers in the large mathematics classroom does support learning if the clicker questions are skillfully designed and used to initiate discussion in the classroom.






How clear is this post?