Thursday, December 31, 2009

So Why Use TurningPoint, Anyways?

From the posts written so far, we have mainly been working with learning about the software/hardware components of the system. Before treading deeper into this rabbit hole, perhaps now is the time to provide a reason for using TurningPoint; we need our white rabbit to chase. Studies have shown there are several benefits to using TurningPoint in the classroom. To present the reason I am going to show, first we need to consider how people learn.

When considering conventional learning in the classroom, there are three general ways in which a student may learn: by seeing, hearing, and doing. That is, some learn by seeing the material, others by hearing it, and still others by acting on it. Some students may easily also overlap in two or three of the areas. As a result, teachers and professors would establish their lesson plans with these factors in mind. More likely than not, this presents a problem when determining how to integrate these factors into lesson plans.

To put things simply, why not incorporate a method that will teach students using all three factors simultaneously?

TurningPoint will do this for you, by its very nature. Let us consider the three factors (seeing, hearing, doing), and how TurningPoint allows a teacher or professor to incorporate them. Suppose a professor asks his or her students a question, and expects responses back from the students via clickers. Let us assume that the question asked specifically has a right answer, as opposed to being opinion-based. When polling the students is completed, the results are then displayed within the TurningPoint presentation.

The question, displayed on the screen, is the first consideration for the student to focus; when seeing the question, it is thought over by the student. After all students have answered the question, the answer (along with the students' distribution) is also displayed on the screen for the student to see. Not only are these students able to see the correct answer, but also those answers that are wrong. Students answers are displayed within a colorful chart. Visual learners will be able to understand the concept in a variety of ways, due to how they are displayed, fairly easily.

Teachers and professors may, and should, ask the question to his/her students, along with the answers one by one. Doing so will appease the auditory learners. Students, when they hear the question, will be able to ponder the answer from those provided. Doing so will engage their auditory focus in the way they consider each answer, as that is one way in which the information was provided. When the results are displayed on the screen, discussing which answer was correct (and perhaps why) will help the auditory learners to understand the concept.

Lastly, we have the 'learn by doing' approach, and this is where the clickers come into play. After the question is asked, the student considers the answer from the choices provided. Which ever choice they provide as an answer is re-enforced by the clicker when s/he pushes a button. The student, then, is acting on the material, if only loosely.

What results in the end is that students walk away from the lecture understanding the material better, due to the fact that all three factors are used simultaneously. After all, isn't a better learning experience for the student (so he or she is able to understand the material more clearly and completely) a key aspect to teaching? This post considers the notion speculatively, but an empirical result should be considered in a future post.

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