"Clickers" in Science Class Is Subject of UB Professor's Half-Million-Dollar NSF Grant

By Avery Schneider

Release Date: November 10, 2009 This content is archived.


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Clyde "Kipp" Herreid has received a national grant to study new methods of using "clickers" to improve how science is taught.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Clyde (Kipp) Herreid, Distinguished Teaching Professor in the University at Buffalo's Department of Biological Sciences and co-director of UB's National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, has received a $500,000 grant to explore innovative and improved methods of teaching science using "clickers," electronic response devices that allow professors to gain immediate student feedback in large classes.

The project, "Case Study Teaching: How Do Questions and Emotional Engagement Impact Student Learning?," will study how to optimize the use of these audience response systems while using case studies in teaching science. A professor can pose a question to the class, and students answer using their "clickers" like a game show buzzer, giving the professor instant feedback as to whether or not the students comprehend the material.

The UB project will explore the importance of questions and the emotional impact of a case study's storyline. Ten faculty members from institutions throughout the U.S. will teach two different biology classes using the same case study. The case studies will vary in the types of questions embedded in the case and the emotional impact the case has on the characters. The goal is to discover what kinds of cases generate the greatest learning, while engendering in students a deep appreciation of science.

The grant, which runs from September 2009 until August 2011, was awarded by the National Science Foundation's Division of Undergraduate Education Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI). It brings NSF funding for UB's National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science to more than $2 million to date.

Herreid is principal investigator; co-principal investigators are Paula Lemons, assistant professor of biology at the University of Georgia, and David Terry, assistant professor of education at Alfred University.

Project results will be widely disseminated through workshops, conferences and print publications to the more-than 8,000 faculty members directly served by the national center, and tens of thousands of their students.

The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science's mission is to promote the use of case studies in undergraduate science education. It has trained thousands of teachers in the techniques of using case studies. For more information about the center, and to view more than 350 case studies in all areas of science, visit its Web site at http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/projects/cases/case.html.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.