Instructors at the Gwynedd-Mercy College Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing in Gwynedd Valley, Pa., are seeing positive results from the use of classroom response systems. Not only do the devices, commonly called clickers, help freshmen in all disciplines make the difficult transition from high school to college, but they also provide benefits especially useful to nursing students.
Clickers, purchased from the company iclicker, were introduced at Gwynedd-Mercy in 2007 through the school of nursing and typically are used with freshmen in large classroom settings. Associate Professor of Nursing Mary Hermann, RN, MSN, EdD, says she initiated the use of clickers in the classroom while exploring ways to bring excitement and an active learning approach to her teaching. Hermann had been informed by Director of Instructional Technology Michelle Simms, EdD, of a device that could be used by students to electronically answer a question embedded in a PowerPoint slide.
During a lecture, an instructor using a PowerPoint presentation will stop to ask students to respond to a question by choosing the correct multiple-choice answer with the click of a button. The students responses are displayed in a bar graph, allowing the instructor and students to immediately see what percentage of students correctly answered the question without identifying individual responses.
The favorable reactions to using clickers led more nursing and other college faculty to integrate clickers into their classrooms.Pamela Lynn, RN
Gwynedd-Mercys Pamela Lynn, RN, MSN, teaches freshmen in Concepts of Nursing, Adult Health and Health Assessment and uses clickers in all three courses. Lynn says she uses clickers with specific purposes in mind, including easing students fears.
I do a lot of interactive lectures, Lynn says. Ill ask the students to comment because some of the stuff they already know, which they dont realize they know so this gives them a chance to voice their thoughts about what they think they know without being embarrassed that theyll get it wrong.
The second is to validate that people are getting what we are discussing. So by looking at how many people get the correct answer, I can tell whether or not I have to spend more time on the content.
The instant feedback can spark discussion and help students know where they stand in relation to their classmates. Gwynedd-Mercy senior nursing student Lauren Foedisch recalls finding the latter aspect being beneficial when she was a freshman.
Youll know what level youre on based on what you got to see in class. Are you with everyone else? Are you behind? Are you ahead? Foedisch says. It kind of helps to know where youre at compared to everyone else. That way you know if you have to prepare more for clinical or if youre right on par for where you should be.
The types of questions nursing instructors ask often require students to think differently than they have in the past. Clickers provide an easy means for instructors to force students to contemplate questions on a regular basis, such as questions applicable to the real world of nursing.
Up to this point, a lot of their education has asked them to memorize and regurgitate. And now were asking them to not only learn material but apply it, and the application questions often cause them to stumble, Lynn says. So for me, especially first semester, it gives them exposure to questions usually unlike what they had to answer previously in high school.
As an added benefit to nursing students, instructors can use clickers to expose students to the types of questions they will face when it comes time to test for their nursing licenses.
The more questions they get relative to the NCLEX exams, the easier it gets, Lynn says.
Gwynedd-Mercy instructors have seen clickers transform quiet, passive auditoriums into buzzing, active learning centers. The advantages of using clickers to enhance critical thinking, spark discussion and generate instant feedback have been documented within nursing education, and the anonymous nature of clickers removes students fears of answering questions in front of a lecture hall full of their peers.
Tom Clegg is a member of the editorial team at Nursing Spectrum.
Mary Hermann, RN, MSN, EdD, and Michelle Simms, EdD, contributed to this story. Hermann is an associate professor of nursing in the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing at Gwynedd-Mercy College. Simms is the director of instructional technology at Gwynedd-Mercy.