Students, Faculty ‘Clicking’ this Spring at TAMIU

For '08, Faculty, Students ‘Clicking’ to
New Learning Frontier at TAMIU

With a single tap of a hand-held device, Dr. Juan Homero Hinojosa can instantly poll his audience and determine if his complex astronomy lecture is truly engaging his students.

The Texas A&M International University professor of physics can then adapt his presentation accordingly. Before the class ends, he can again poll his students and make sure critical concepts have been retained with a quick test.

Dr. Hinojosa is at the vanguard of the University's deployment of “Clicker” technology, a learning response system that works through individual handheld transmitters (clickers) that collect input from students and tabulate it for faculty interpretation.

“I use the ‘clickers’ as a tool to enhance my delivery of instruction. The clickers are rather easy for the students to use, and provide valuable real-time information,” Dr. Hinojosa said, “Since immediate feedback is provided by the system, this allows me, as the instructor, to either re-teach a concept that students didn't quite grasp the first time around, or to move on to other material. I look forward to using this technology in the Spring 2008 semester in all of my classes.”

The initiative is all part of TAMIU's strategic increase of technology in the classroom, said LeeBrian Gaskins, the University's chief information officer.

“This is the latest in our ongoing efforts to strategically increase technology in the classroom and tightly integrate it into pedagogy,” Gaskins explained.

The units, about the size of a cell phone, also streamline administrative tasks, said Pat Abrego, the University's director of instructional technology.

“Attendance and grading are automated, and any data you collect can be streamed to a learning management system,” she said.

She said the University’s prototype effort has been well received by faculty and students alike.

“This fall, we had five classes using the technology, impacting almost 300 students. The faculty really like the immediate feedback the units make possible, as do the students. The University is providing the technology to the students, so they are part of our investment in new teaching technologies. We expect the program to grow and eventually be phased in across campus,” Abrego explained.

She noted that there are additional benefits to the use of the clickers.

“While the feedback is the most powerful feature, these units feature numeric pads, especially helpful in math and science classes; they integrate with Microsoft Office software and faculty can use existing PowerPoint, Word, without modification, in addition to their use of handouts, whiteboards and verbal questions. Finally, the clickers seamlessly integrate with our learning management system, Angel,” she said.

For additional information on clicker technology at TAMIU, contact Abrego at 956.326.2302, visit offices in Sue and Radclife Killam Library room 259 or e-mail pabrego@tamiu.edu

Registration for Spring Semester 2008 is underway 24/7 at UOnline at schedule.tamiu.edu. Spring 2008 classes begin Monday, Jan. 14.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu