Twist on ‘Clicker’ Technology for Dental Students

A dental student uses a “clicker” on her laptop to answer questions posed by her instructor.

Soon after they enter the lecture hall, nearly 90 fourth-year dental students use their laptops to answer at least one multiple-choice question concerning the practice and ethics of modern dentistry. The answers are instantly projected to the front of the room in the form of a professional-style bar graph.

John Maggio and Chester Gary, clinical assistant professors of restorative dentistry who coteach the class, are among a growing number of UB faculty members employing “audience response systems”—nicknamed “clickers”—a high-tech trend whose popularity has been skyrocketing at universities across the country.

What makes this audience response system unique in relation to the university-wide UBclicks project, however, is that the dental school uses special software that enables students’ laptops to serve as clickers.

“I think all the reasons I have for using clickers would fall under the umbrella of engaging students,” says Maggio. “This is really making it a much more active classroom. It’s a good way to motivate them, and they really seem to enjoy it.”

“It helps you pay attention and reinforces what the lecture contains,” says Callie Davis, who’s in a course taught by Maggio and Gary.