Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Assessment fun with clickers; and mobile phone clickers too

And welcome back from the hiatus--I don't know where the semester went! Please forgive the retro-post, getting back into the saddle and finishing up some of the posts I started and didn't quite publish!

We are continuing to focus on our assessment efforts. We have our big assessment project involving first year English composition students. We crunched the numbers with that and also going forward with revising our tests again. I will save that for a later post, but we did do our first pilot assessment using our Senteo/Synchroneyes clicker software and equipment as part of our continuing efforts to extend assessment into other classes. We are targeting next our Freshman Seminar classes.

I am looking forward to trying this out. I did not personally do the pilot clicker assessment but my colleague indicated that he felt it went very well. It was a simple post-test consisting of three questions, given at the end of the instruction session. I can say that I handled the statistics for the class. Synchroneyes/Senteo has a very decent system for results--they come out in a neat graph with basic statistics like class average and percentage answering correctly in an Excel file.

The only drawback is that the statistics do not appear to be cumulative, and so to extend this to all our other Freshman Seminar classes we'd have to evolve a system to name each Excel file with the name of the librarian, class, and possibly date or time, and then save in a shared folder. And then later if I wanted to add up the statistics for all the students taking that post-test, I would have to combine the Excel files....

If anyone out there has used Synchroneyes/Senteo and has a better approach, please please do let me know!

Another intriguing development is the use of web-based software so mobile phones/smartphones can be used as clickers. (an example would be Polleverywhere) I did a very desultuory search on Google and there were a few links. One of the things that came to mind immediately as a possible use for this technology would be our massively large Freshman Orientation sessions.

The fall orientations usually last 3 days, working about 3000 students in batches throughout the day. We generally show them several videos, and the last few years we have given them a paper "quiz" which we collect at the end of the session. It's quite rough to tabulate so many "quizzes" and so it seems having the students vote on the answers to various simple questions tied to the outcomes for this orientation, with a chart displayed on the big screen of the teaching theater where the orientation sessions happen would bring a welcome sense of interactivity to the library portion.

I am not quite sure given the scale of this orientation, that it might work well, but it's definitely an interesting idea..........:) and one I hope might come to pass eventually.