New tool helps teachers use technology more effectively

Apr 16, 2012

A University of British Columbia researcher has piloted a tool to help elementary and secondary school science teachers get the most out of new classroom technologies.

One of the most frequently used tools is the “clicker.” Students use them to answer multiple-choice questions throughout their lesson, allowing for continuous feedback on their progress. This type of interaction has been found to increase overall student academic achievement, especially in the areas of and mathematics.

“Technology has proliferated at an unprecedented rate and we tend to assume that by using new tools in the classroom, students will automatically gain a better understanding of the course material,” says Marina Milner-Bolotin, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education at UBC who will be presenting this research at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting in Vancouver.

“The reality is that many teachers aren’t taught how to get the most out of these tools and, in the case of the clickers, how to ask effective questions.”

“With information readily available online, there is less emphasis on memorizing facts,” says Milner-Bolotin. “Instead, students are increasingly being asked to put concepts together, solve problems, and analyze information and data.”

Milner-Bolotin and her colleagues built a tool, called the Elementary Science Questions Evaluation Rubric, that helps teachers develop and evaluate multiple-choice science questions to use with clickers, also known as electronic-response systems.

“It is easy to make up questions that test whether a student has memorized the facts. But if the goal is to ensure that students can synthesize and analyze the concepts learned, then we need to be asking different questions.”

Milner-Bolotin and her colleagues piloted the Rubric with a group of elementary teacher education students in the Bachelor of Education program at UBC. The students developed 83 clicker questions relevant to the science curriculum. Graduate in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy then used the Rubric to evaluate these questions.

Although the tool was developed for clicker , Milner-Bolotin says it can be applied to other technologies too. Teachers who are starting their careers now will likely be using different technologies and teaching methods over the span of their careers.

“It is a skill to ask a good a question that will work with any technology,” says Milner-Bolotin. “By giving tools like the Rubric, they will be more open and prepared to try new technologies in the future.”

Explore further: Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Teachers think white females lag behind in math, study finds

Apr 05, 2012

( -- High school math teachers tend to rate white female students’ math abilities lower than those of their white male peers, even when their grades and test scores are comparable, according to a University ...

See something? Tell the teacher

Nov 23, 2010

( -- Many school districts are pushing principals to spend more time in classrooms observing and evaluating teachers but few are using the information they gather to improve education.

The next STEP in science education

Aug 03, 2011

By many accounts, the picture of science education in the United States is bleak: American students lag their international peers in standardized test scores, fewer of them are studying science and engineering at the university ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.