New tool helps teachers use technology more effectively

April 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: Teachers think white females lag behind in math, study finds

Related Stories

Teachers think white females lag behind in math, study finds

April 5, 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

November 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

August 3, 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 into who is least afraid of death

March 24, 2017

A new study examines all robust, available data on how fearful we are of what happens once we shuffle off this mortal coil. They find that atheists are among those least afraid of dying... and, perhaps not surprisingly, ...

Scientists make new discovery about bird evolution

March 24, 2017

In a new paper published in National Science Review, a team of scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, the Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature, and the Nanjing Institute of Geology and ...

Mathematical framework explains diverse plant stem forms

March 23, 2017

It is well known that as plants grow, their stems and shoots respond to outside signals like light and gravity. But if plants all have similar stimuli, why are there so many different plant shapes? Why does a weeping willow ...

How chewing like a cow helped early mammals thrive

March 23, 2017

You probably haven't given much thought to how you chew, but the jaw structure and mechanics of almost all modern mammals may have something to do with why we're here today. In a new paper published this week in Scientific ...

'Pay to publish' schemes rampant in science journals

March 22, 2017

Dozens of scientific journals appointed a fictive scholar to their editorial boards on the strength of a bogus resume, researchers determined to expose "pay to publish" schemes reported Wednesday.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.