What are Middle School Students Talking About During Clicker Questions? Characterizing Small-Group Conversations Mediated by Classroom Response Systems

Lauren A. Barth-Cohen, Michelle K. Smith, Daniel K. Capps, Justin D. Lewin, Jonathan T. Shemwell, MacKenzie K.R. Stetzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is a growing interest in using classroom response systems or clickers in science classrooms at both the university and K-12 levels. Typically, when instructors use this technology, students are asked to answer and discuss clicker questions with their peers. The existing literature on using clickers at the K-12 level has largely focused on the efficacy of clicker implementation, with few studies investigating collaboration and discourse among students. To expand on this work, we investigated the question: Does clicker use promote productive peer discussion among middle school science students? Specifically, we collected data from middle school students in a physical science course. Students were asked to answer a clicker question individually, discuss the question with their peers, answer the same question again, and then subsequently answer a new matched-pair question individually. We audio recorded the peer conversations to characterize the nature of the student discourse. To analyze these conversations, we used a grounded analysis approach and drew on literature about collaborative knowledge co-construction. The analysis of the conversations revealed that middle school students talked about science content and collaboratively discussed ideas. Furthermore, the majority of conversations, both ones that positively and negatively impacted student performance, contained evidence of collaborative knowledge co-construction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-61
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Science Education and Technology
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

Keywords

  • Classroom response systems
  • Collaboration
  • Small-group discussions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)

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