1 Clicker Case Studies

Overview: Clicker case studies focus on using lectures to engage students in stories of discovery and problem solving. Combining stories containing, for example, scientific messages, with “Class Response Systems” or “Clickers” can be an exciting way to engage students in “live” face-to-face “online” sessions.

Presenting PowerPoint slides within an online interface (i.e. Microsoft Teams, Zoom), the professor introduces the case and provides information that students will need to consider. The professor may also use slides to “lecture” and task students to provide answers to questions that they pose via functionalities (apps) available in the platform (embedded polling apps). In other words, students must interpret data, make decisions, offer opinions based on the case subject matter, etc. Student answers can then be shared with the rest of the class (anonymously) and can typically be used to elicit discussions and debates and allow the professor to correct misconceptions and to customize instruction. Professors can introduce a sense of adventure and give a measure of control to the students by asking them which parts of the case they would like to explore first via polling. Choosing the most popular choice, the professor can then move to the related portion of the case, introduce and present information for the dedicated section and task students with clicker-style activities related to the case. Once the section is completed, the professor then asks the class to choose the next destination. In this fashion, each section of the case can be discussed, but they do not have to be discussed in the “order” originally chosen by the professor. In biology, analysis of crime scenes, analysis of medical files, scientific research, and so on make excellent cases to lead large classrooms in a directed session that can offer a sense of adventure and fun and seemingly a “Just-in-Time” teaching and learning approach with a focus on learning outcomes.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Clicker case studies are adapted to large classrooms.
  • Get inspiration from real stories (crime stories, medical stories, news articles, published scientific papers).
  • Ask various types of questions in which students must make informed decisions, offer opinions or conclusions based on observations. Focus on learning outcomes.
  • Incorporate think-pair-shares when tasking students to perform the activities.

Duration: An entire class period; multiple class periods.

Continuity: Cases can be used more than one time over the term and modified every year.

Number of players: small or large enrollment course.



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