# Minicourse Update

As I mentioned previously, I co-facilitated a four-hour minicourse titled “Teaching with Clickers and Classroom Voting” at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Washington, DC, earlier this month. My partners were Kelly Cline, Mark Parker, and Holly Zullo of Carroll College. We had about twenty mathematicians in the minicourse, and it was a great experience on my end.

I’ve posted our PowerPoint slides from day one and day two of the minicourse on my Web site. (Scroll down to the “Conference Talks” section.) The slides from the first day feature several great examples of mathematics clicker questions. The slides from the second day include advice on conducting research on teaching with clickers that my collaborators and I put together.

During the minicourse, my collaborators had some very useful advice for faculty teaching with clickers. Here are just two highlights:

- Mark Parker mentioned that telling students the correct answer to a clicker question (either verbally or by using the various correct answer indicators that most classroom response systems provide) can train them to answer your clicker questions quickly in order to “get to” the correct answers that you provide them more quickly. If your goal is to use clicker questions to have students engage meaningfully with the questions you ask them, then this is an important point to remember.
- Holly Zullo described some of the advantages of distributing print copies of one’s clicker questions to students at the start of class. This simplifies the use of software with some systems (since questions need not be displayed on screen), but perhaps more importantly, it allows students to take notes on and around your clicker questions. I’ve spoken with several instructors who post clicker questions online after class for students to study, but I hadn’t thought much about the merits of distributing the questions during class.

At next year’s Joint Meetings, we’re hoping to run the minicourse again, and we’ve received approval for a contributed paper session on classroom voting. Kien Lim of the University of Texas at El Paso will be coordinating that with Kelly Cline and me. If you’re a mathematician, keep an eye out for the call for proposals in the usual places.