Alice Luby

I am a lecturer in Accounting in the College of Business – DIT Aungier Street Campus.  The majority of my timetabled hours are lecturing in accounting to first year undergraduate students.  I enjoy using technology in education to improve the student learning experience and I also have an interest in assisting students who are registered with the disability service to ensure that they have a variety of tools and approaches that can facilitate their learning.

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What technology do you use for teaching and learning?

I use a range of tools to facilitate the learning process. However, the approach that appears most favoured by students is the use of polling software during lecture delivery.  This semester I am using the TurningPoint mobile app which students have installed on their own mobile device rather than the clickers I have used in previous academic years.

What do you feel are the advantages of using this technology?

Students need to engage practically with accounting content to enable them to successfully work through the concepts presented during a lecture.  The use of the TurningPoint app is an ideal way of encouraging students to be active and at the same time allowing the lecturer to judge if the material is understood adequately before progressing to more difficult concepts.   This active learning approach encourages students to ‘think’ and ‘do’ during a lecture and converts them from the passive observer to an active participant.

How do you use this technology with students?

I use the TurningPoint app in at least 50% of lectures. I build both multiple choice and numeric input questions embedded into a standard PowerPoint lecture presentations when presenting a new topic.  After a couple of slides the students are presented with one or more clicker questions which have been generated prior to the class using the turning technology ribbon interface.  The slide shows the number of students who have responded and after a suitable period the graphic showing what answers were selected and the percentage correct is displayed.  Appropriate questions are distributed throughout the presentation getting the students to continually grapple with the content being presented.  Some lectures may commence with clickers questions to recap on core or prerequisite knowledge to ensure that students are equipped to deal with the lecture planned.
When this approach is used during the lecture they provide the student with an early opportunity to gauge their understanding and the lecturer has immediate awareness of what concepts the students have grasped and what areas they are struggling with.

I also use embedded TurningPoint to guide students through exam questions.  When used in this way the main motive is for the lecturer to judge how the students can cope with exam standard questions.  It can occasionally be problematic if a group of students have a wide range of abilities and need to work at different paces.

What do you think are the main benefits and the main drawbacks to using this technolgoy?

In previous academic years I used clickers, when students were provided with a device at the start of the lecture rather than using their own mobile device.  The questions and approach is similar in all other ways.  An end of year quality survey provided me some unsolicited comments from students supporting the use of clickers indicating that they facilitated learning ‘Clickers allow students to understand each topic easier’ and improved class interactions ‘clickers were a good way to get the class to interact’ and simply made the class more enjoyable ‘the clickers were fun’. These views appear consistent with Hutchins (2001) who reported that students had heightened satisfaction, and more fulfilling experiences when technology was used in their courses among other factors.
The slideshow below gives a sample of comments received on the most recent (2017) Q6 survey

Insights Alice Luby Q6 comments re classroom polling (PDF)

The graphic below indicates some of the comments provided on a student survey which specifically asked about the use of clickers in the accounting module.

In addition informal feedback was provided by the learning support officer stating that a student indicated that the only lecture they could stay concentrating on and learn in was the accounting lecture where they used the clickers.

The figure below provides a brief evaluation of clickers from a lecturers perspective.

Attendance and engagement has improved significantly since I introduced the clickers.  I also found that students are less likely to feel they are ‘the only ones who don’t get it’.  Prior to using clickers, students tended to disengage because they felt they couldn’t grasp the subject and their confidence plummeted with them feeling they were the only ones struggling.  The use of clickers allows them to see between 10 and 25% of their peers are also making mistakes they are no longer isolated.

What advice would you have for someone looking to use this technology with students?

From a pedagogy perspective I would advise lecturers not to overuse clickers and get caught up in the technology.  The first year I used the numeric input clickers I tried to make them work in every lecture to justify the financial commitment along with my time.  I found that students did not appear to perform as well in the end of term examination.  This was because the clickers indicated that they knew the basic knowledge in class and supported them working through exam questions during lectures so they felt they knew it all and didn’t do enough self-directed study.  After the first year I found a better balance in the use of clickers and adopted much of the initial approach and am now happy with both student engagement and the examination results.

In relation to the TurningPoint App approach this semester I did have teething problems.  I had to stop using my laptop as I was having constant technical issues which I eventually put down to EDUROAM.  The technician installed TurningPoint in the lecture rooms I use and the classes ran a lot smoother with far less issues.  So the main lesson is use a LAN rather than WIFI.  I tend to at the start of each session to both reset the session and the all slides.  Also, under no circumstances halt the slideshow and return to the standard PowerPoint interface until you are finished ALL the embedded questions.

A related case study first appeared on the TELU website, which is packed with open online resources for teaching with technology. The site was created as part of a National Forum project in collaboration with CIT, DIT, UCD, IT Tralee and UCC. 

                                                  Click here to read other case studies in this Insights with series

And if you'd like to explore using Turning Point App with your own students, click here to obtain a licence and some training