Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Interactive Technology Integrated into MCC Social Sciences Classes

The clicker that MCC-Penn Valley social sciences students will use to mark their answer choices.

A screen shot of a sample question that students can answer with their clickers.
When students come back in the fall for their social sciences classes this fall at MCC-Penn Valley, they will be greeted by clickers and interactive PowerPoint presentations. On Tuesday, July 26, Dr. Karen Curls, head of Penn Valley’s Social Sciences Division, along with the division instructors, were trained on using Turning Point, a program from Turning Technologies, a company that specilializes in audience response systems.  The training was facillitated by Ben Bestic of Turning Technologies and Jim Beachner, the Health Science Institute Network Coordinator.

How Does it Work?
Turning Point is a program designed to work with MS PowerPoint to display questions and multiple-choice answer choices on instructor' lecture slides.  After viewing the question, students are allowed to use a palm-sized LCD-powered clicker to anonymously select an answer in the alloted time.  Once that time is up, the instructor can prompt an animation to display the correct answer or display a bar graph that shows how many students chose each answer.

Benefits to Student Learning
By integrating this program into social sciences classes, instructors are able to assign point values for the correct answer chosen, or assign participation points for students who have made any answer selection at all.  Additionally, depending on the settings that the instructor chooses, students can choose multiple responses for the same answer. 

This fall will mark the first semester that the Turning Point program will be used in the Social Science division; however, the technology has been in use in Health Science Institute classes for about one year now. According to Jim Beachner, HSI instructors have already seen an increase in student participation and student grades; some classes have seen an increase in passing rate from 80% to 100%. 

This Turning Point training session marks a literal turning point in the journey towards creating a more engaging and technologically-integrated environment for Metropolitan Community College students.  Technologies that help create a more interactive learning experience for students have proven themselves invaluable thus far.  We will all be watching to see if the clickers continue to yield positive results this fall for both instructors and their students.

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