Creating Times for Telling with Clicker Questions?

At that How People Learn workshop yesterday, I shared the idea of asking clicker questions you expect a good number of students to answer incorrectly as a way to create a “time for telling” where students are ready to hear and understand an explanation or mini-lecture on a particular topic. This is a pretty standard use of clickers and one that I describe in all of my workshops on teaching with clickers.

Yesterday, however, this use of a clicker question struck at least one person in the room as a de-motivation. Her read on the idea (or perhaps the experience of it, since I used the technique during the workshop) was that it communicated the message to students that they’re ignorant and the professor has all the right answers.

Maybe I just botched my use of this technique in the workshop (and thereby giving her the wrong impression), but, like I’ve said, I talk about this technique a lot, and I’ve never heard this criticism of it. The “time for telling” idea itself comes from a good source (Daniel Schwartz and John Bransford), but perhaps the use of that idea with clickers is more complicated than I thought.

What’s your take on asking students clicker questions you expect them to answer incorrectly as a way of creating times for telling? Ever hear any pushback on that as counterproductive?  (For a few thoughts on these questions, check out the discussion over on Google Plus.)

Image: “doh,” by hobvias sudoneighm, Flickr (CC)

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