Moving beyond multiple choice clickers questions can be challenging. But with a little planning, clickers can support developing a students critical thinking skills. Here are few suggestions to get started:

One thing to think about when designing clicker questions is the role the questions will play in the course. To start, an instructor can ask themselves a number of questions including:

  • What are the key concepts or themes to emphasize during the course?
  • Is there a specific way to use the clickers in lecture?
  • What is the goal of each question in each class session?

Along with using clickers to “check in” with students to see whether they are on the same page – both with each other and with you - questions testing recall or factual knowledge can be valid. Good clicker questions can probe knowledge of assigned work or highlight aspects of a reading that should be emphasized or remembered. They can also preview the types of questions that may appear on an exam giving students insight into how they should be thinking about an issue or content topic.

Clicker questions can also provide anonymous feedback to the instructor. For example, instructors can find out how much confidence students have in their understanding or abilities (how well do you know the AP style? How confident are you in your understanding of postmodern critical theory?), or ask what material is giving students the most trouble, identifying the “muddiest point” in the material.

Finally it’s also good to remember no matter how well designed, questions used to simply take attendance or to give daily attendance quizzes, don’t really do much to support student learning.