Clickers are huge turn-off

ReAnne Utemark

There are a plethora of questions that trump the “there are no stupid questions” cliché. These questions include, “Does this make me look fat?” “Are we there yet?” and “When are you going to change how much you watch football?” However, in a university setting, there are no stupid questions in regard to classes.

I was recently introduced to the idea of Clickers. Clickers are basically little electronic masks for students that enable them to disappear in classes. To be fair, they are actually small electronic devices that allow students to input answers which are then read by the instructor’s computer and can be projected on the screen.

This might be a good idea in theory. It also might be a good idea on a huge campus in huge lower-level classes where freshmen are too afraid to speak up. It also might be a good way for professors to get an idea of who is not understanding the material.

It is not a good idea at Washburn.

It is not a good idea in small classes where the professors can look up and see the faces of their students. This is especially true if the faces look blank, except for that one kid in the front who always looks like he gets it and that one girl in the back who is sleeping. Aside from the few, if a large number of students look like they do not get it, they probably are not getting it. If there are some students who are having trouble, they should go to the professor during the required office hours and ask questions. If one cannot do this, one should seriously question his/her commitment to his/her college education.

Also, Clickers are not a good idea because they are distracting to students. The Clicker advocates say that the Clicker can be used to allow students to answer questions and take tests via the Clicker. Students have been taking classes for centuries and have gotten by with little more than a pen and a piece of paper. They take notes and tests with those same tools. It is ridiculous to think they need something else in a school the size of Washburn.

As well, if a professor poses a question to the class, someone should raise their hand and answer it. Granted, I am not a shy person under most circumstances, so I might not be able to understand a shy person’s mentality. But I do believe that the purpose of a university education is to help the shy become the outgoing, and perhaps to a lesser degree help those who were already outgoing become more so.

I have never taught a university class, so perhaps I am underqualified to say something. Despite this, I have taken many undergraduate classes at Washburn and have many more to go. An amazing amount of professors who teach Washburn classes have terminal degrees. This is so phenomenal because undergraduate students are learning about subjects taught by people who, theoretically, have extensive knowledge about their chosen field. The full advantage of that is not shown when Clicker results appear on the overhead projector or when students answer questions anonymously. If I am wrong, I am probably wrong because of some misfired logic process. I would rather have someone with a Ph.D. tell me I am wrong and, specifically, why. Or, on occasion, that I am right.

If only my Clicker is answering and not me, then there is no way for the professor to know who needs help and who does not. The subsequent lack of correction creates sterile learning, something I am not prepared to see at Washburn. There may be no stupid questions in classes, but the Clicker is a stupid answer for a lack of interaction.