YES or NO? TRUE or FALSE? BLACK or WHITE? These responses indicate polar opposites and when you offer only two choices, there is no sitting on the fence. You can only respond one way or the other. The importance of composing quality “clicker” questions cannot be understimated, because as the teacher or presenter, it’s the responses you receive that give you the insight and future directions you need to take.
Here is a typical “Clicker” question that I’ve seen asked:
A total of TEN humans have walked on the Moon. TRUE or FALSE?
Now this question relies on knowledge of a fact (unless you believe the Moon landings were a hoax of course). You either know the answer, or you don’t. Or you can work it out, or you can’t. The question is asked, the clickers are clicked. The responses are in and the results are TRUE – 30% / FALSE – 70%.
Of course, the correct answer is FALSE. Moon landing missions started with Apollo 11 and ended with Apollo 17. That’s 7 missions in total. In each mission, two astronauts went in the Lunar lander, while one remained circling the Moon. BUT: Tom Hanks reminded us that Apollo 13 never made it to the Moon, so in total, there were six successful missions, meaning 12 astronauts in total that walked on the Moon.
Back to the clickers. 70% of our group know their stuff. Excellent! As a teacher, I’m doing pretty well. Then reality sinks in. Only a certain proportion of the class actually KNEW the answer. The rest guessed it! It could be that 40% knew it and 60% didn’t – and those 60% guessed with 50:50 probablility providing us with the inflation of the correct score by another 30%! So as a teacher, the real figure of 40% understanding is not highlighted at all – just a false sense of security in its place.
Had the question been reworded as:
How many humans have walked on the Moon?
A: Eight / B: Ten / C: Twelve / D: None
The responses would have been very different. The moral? Choose your clicker questions carefully. More articles regarding this important aspect of clicker use coming soon.