Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-25-2016

Publication Title

CBE Life Sciences Education

ISSN

1931-7913

Volume

15

Issue

4

DOI

https://dx.doi.org/10.1187%2Fcbe.16-02-0109

Abstract

Understanding how instructional techniques and classroom norms influence in-class student interactions has the potential to positively impact student learning. Many previous studies have shown that students benefit from discussing their ideas with one another in class. In this study of introductory biology students, we explored how using an in-class accountability system might affect the nature of clicker-question discussions. Clicker-question discussions in which student groups were asked to report their ideas voluntarily (volunteer call) were compared with discussions in which student groups were randomly selected to report their ideas (random call). We hypothesized that the higher-accountability condition (random call) would impress upon students the importance of their discussions and thus positively influence how they interacted. Our results suggest that a higher proportion of discussions in the random call condition contained exchanges of reasoning, some forms of questioning, and both on- and off-topic comments compared with discussion in the volunteer call condition. Although group random call does not impact student performance on clicker questions, the positive impact of this instructional approach on exchanges of reasoning and other features suggests it may encourage some types of student interactions that support learning.

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