Numeric Response Questions in History Courses

Maybe this is obvious to others, but I hadn’t thought of this particular use of numeric-response clicker questions, shared with me by a humanities professor recently: In a class that deals with history, ask students to identify the year in which a particular event happened using a numeric-response clicker question.

This question type is typically used in math and science classes to have students respond with their answers to open-ended computational questions, but it can just as easily be used in a humanities class to have students respond with dates (e.g. 1776, 2010).  Sure, one could ask students to respond to a multiple-choice date question, but the free-response format might surface some wrong answers you wouldn’t predict.

This kind of question isn’t limited to events, of course.  You could also ask students to identify the year a piece of literature was written or an artwork was created.  This type of question need not be a factual recall question, either.  You could present to students a piece of art, for instance, they haven’t likely seen before and ask them to analyze the artwork and estimate when it was created.

Some classroom response systems allow you to set a range for the correct answer to a numeric-response question.  With that feature, you could give students a little wiggle room in their answers (“To within 5 years, in what year did X occur?”) or have them respond to the nearest decade.

(By the way, I’ve just signed up for the twitterfeed service, so a tweet about this post should automatically appear in my Twitter stream in the next hour.  Fingers crossed!)

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