Best Practices for Writing Clicker Questions
I am frequently asked how one goes about writing effective clicker questions. My usual approach is to share examples of useful clicker questions of different types from a variety of disciplines. That works well, but I believe that some who ask me this question are looking for something more directive. I included many suggestions for writing clicker questions in Chapter 4 of my book, but I was recently asked by a colleague for some other resources on this topic. After putting together a list of a few resources in an email to him, I thought I might share it here, as well.
- For those of you in the sciences and engineering, the Clickers Resource Guide published by the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI) at the University of British Columbia includes some excellent advice on crafting questions. Check out Section 3 in the guide.
- One of the sources references in the CWSEI guide is the 2006 article by Ian Beatty and his collaborators titled “Designing Effective Questions for Classroom Response System Teaching.” It appeared in the American Journal of Physics, so its focus is squarely on clicker questions for physics courses. However, I think both Ian’s article and the CWSEI guide would be useful to instructors in non-science disciplines.
- For a more general guide to writing clicker questions, Roberta Sullivan’s 2008 article entitled “Principles for Constructing Good Clicker Questions: Going Beyond Rote Learning and Stimulating Active Engagement with Course Content” has some great advice (some drawn from a 2007 Educause Quarterly article by Margie Martyn). Sullivan’s article isn’t available on the open Web, however, so that link might not work for you. However, you can see a PowerPoint presentation by Sullivan on the same topic, as well as listen to a podcast interview with her.
- One more resource from Ian Beatty. Ian recently shared some of his insights on writing clicker questions on his blog. Here’s a quote to whet your appetite:
One flash of insight I had recently is that, at least for me, it’s not really creating questions that’s tough. The hard part is figuring out what I want my students to learn from the class, and casting that in terms of what I want my students to be able to do.
I’ll add that I have an article that should complement the above resources that’s due to come out soon. I’ll be sure to share it here when it’s available.
Other suggestions for succinct advice on writing clicker questions?
Update: In the comments below, Stephanie Chasteen mentions a video produced by the University of Colorado that includes strategies for writing clickers questions. Here’s the video:
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