Advertisement

Classtalk: A classroom communication system for active learning

  • Robert J. DufresneEmail author
  • William J. Gerace
  • William J. Leonard
  • Jose P. Mestre
  • Laura Wenk
Article

Abstract

TRADITIONAL METHODS for teaching science courses at the post-secondary level employ a lecture format of instruction in which the majority of students are passively listening to the instructor and jotting down notes. Current views of learning and instruction challenge the wisdom of this traditional pedagogic practice by stressing the need for the learner to play an active role in constructing knowledge. The emerging technology of classroom communication systems offers a promising tool for helping instructors create a more interactive, student-centered classroom, especially when teaching large courses. In this paper we describe our experiences teaching physics with a classroom communication system calledClasstalk. Classtalk facilitated the presentation of questions for small group work as well as the collection of student answers and the display of histograms showing how the class answered, all of which fed into a class-wide discussion of students’ reasoning. We foundClasstalk to be a useful tool not only for engaging students in active learning during the lecture hour but also for enhancing the overall communication within the classroom. Equally important, students were very positive aboutClasstalk-facilitated instruction and believed that they learned more during class than they would have during a traditional lecture.

Key Words

classroom communication systems active learning physics higher education interactive lectures cooperative learning science teaching lecture courses constructivism educational technologies 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Anderson, C.W. (1987). Strategic teaching in science. In B.F. Jones, A.S. Palincsar, D.S. Ogle & E.G. Carr (Eds.),Strategic teaching and learning: Cognitive instruction in the content areas (pp. 73–91). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.Google Scholar
  2. Anzai, Y. & Simon, H.A. (1979). The theory of learning by doing,Psychological Review, 86, 124–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bonwell, C.C. & Eison, J.A. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom.ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 1. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education, The George Washington University.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, J.S., Collins, A. & Duguid, P. (1989), February. Situated cognition and the culture of learning,Educational Researcher, 18, 32–42.Google Scholar
  5. Chi, M.T.H., Feltovich, P.J. & Glaser, R. (1981). Categorization and representation of physics problems by experts and novices,Cognitive Science, 5, 121–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Claxton, C.S. & Murrell, P.H. (1987). Learning styles: Implications for improving educational practices.ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 4. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education, The George Washington University.Google Scholar
  7. Clement, J.J. (1982a). Algebra word problem solutions: Thought processes underlying a common misconception,Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 13, 16–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clement, J.J. (1982b). Students’ preconceptions in introductory mechanics,American Journal of Physics, 50, 66–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cole, M. (1985). The zone of proximal development: Where culture and cognition meet. In J.V. Wertsch (Ed.),Culture, communication and cognition: Vygotskian perspectives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Dufresne, R., Gerace, W.J., Hardiman, P.T. & Mestre, J.P. (1992). Constraining novices to perform expert-like problem analyses: Effects on schema acquisition,Journal of the Learning Sciences, 2, 307–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Garner, R. (1990). When children and adults do not use learning strategies: Toward a theory of settings,Review of Educational Research, 60, 517–529.Google Scholar
  12. Glaser, R. (1992). Expert knowledge and processes of thinking. In D. Halpern (Ed.),Enhancing thinking skills in the sciences and mathematics (pp. 63–75). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  13. Glaser, R. (1994). Learning theory and instruction. In G. d’Ydewalle, P. Eelen & P. Bertelson (Eds.),International perspectives on psychological science, Vol. 2: The state of the art (pp. 341–375). Hove, UK: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  14. Gullette, M.M. (1992). Leading discussion in a lecture course: Some maxims and an exhortation,Change, 24(2), 32–39.Google Scholar
  15. Halloun, I.A. & Hestenes, D. (1985). The initial knowledge state of college physics students,American Journal of Physics, 53, 1043–1055.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hestenes, D. & Wells, M. (1992, March). A mechanics baseline test,The Physics Teacher, 30, 141–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hestenes, D., Wells, M. & Swackhamer, G. (1992, March). Force concept inventory,The Physics Teacher, 30, 159–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hewson, P.W., Kerby, H.W. & Cook, P.A. (1995). Determining the conceptions of teaching science held by experienced high school science teachers,Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 32, 503–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Johnson, D.W., Johnson, R.T. & Smith, K. (1991) Cooperative learning: Increasing college faculty instructional productivity.ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 4. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education, The George Washington University.Google Scholar
  20. Jonassen, D.H. (1995). Computers as cognitive tools: Learning with technology and not from technology,Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 6, 40–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Larkin, J.H. (1980). Skilled problem solving in physics: A hierarchical planning model,Journal of Structural Learning, 6, 271–297.Google Scholar
  22. Larkin, J.H. (1981). Enriching formal knowledge: A model for learning to solve problems in physics. In J.R. Anderson (Ed.),Cognitive skills and their acquisition (pp. 311–334). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  23. Larkin, J.H. (1983). The role of problem representation in physics. In D. Gentner and A.L. Stevens (Eds.),Mental models (pp. 75–98). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  24. Lave, J. (1988).Cognition in practice: Mind, mathematics and culture in everyday life. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Lightman, A.P., Miller, J.D. & Leadbeater, B.J. (1987). Contemporary cosmological beliefs. In J.D. Novak (Ed.),Proceedings of the second international seminar on misconceptions and educational strategies in science and mathematics, Vol. III (pp. 309–321). Ithaca, NY: Department of Education, Cornell University.Google Scholar
  26. Mazur, E. (1993).Peer instruction: A user’s manual. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  27. McDermott, L.C. (1984). Research on conceptual understanding in mechanics,Physics Today, 37(7), 24–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mestre, J. & Touger, J. (1989, September). Cognitive research: What’s in it for physics teachers,The Physics Teacher, 27, 447–456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pintrich, P.R. & De Groot, E. (1990). Motivational and self-regulated learning components of classroom academic performance,Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 33–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pintrich, P.R., Marx, R.W. & Boyle, R.A. (1993). Beyond cold conceptual change: The role of motivational beliefs and classroom contextual factors in the process of conceptual change,Review of Educational Research, 63, 167–199.Google Scholar
  31. Pintrich, P.R. & Schrauben, B. (1992). Students’ motivational beliefs and their cognitive engagement in classroom academic tasks. In D. Schunk & J. Meece (Eds.),Student perceptions in the classroom: Causes and consequences (pp. 149–183). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  32. Pyramid Film & Video.A Private Universe.Santa Monica, CA.Google Scholar
  33. Resnick, L.B. (1983). Mathematics and science learning: A new conception,Science, 220, 477–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Resnick, L.B. (1987).Education and learning to think. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  35. Sadler, P.M. (1987). Misconceptions in astronomy. In J.D. Novak (Ed.),Proceedings of the second international seminar on misconceptions and educational strategies in science and mathematics, Vol. III (pp. 422–425). Ithaca, NY: Department of Education, Cornell University.Google Scholar
  36. Schauble, L. (1990). Belief revision in children: The role of prior knowledge and strategies for generating evidence,Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 49, 31–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Seymour, E. (1995, May). Revisiting the ‘problem iceberg’: Science, mathematics, and engineering students still chilled out,Journal of College Science Teaching, 24, 392–400.Google Scholar
  38. Sokoloff, D.R. (1994). Enhancing physics learning in lecture with interactive, microcomputer-based demonstrations,AAPT Announcer, 24(4), 63.Google Scholar
  39. Stetten, G.D. & Guthrie, S.D. (1995). Wireless infrared networking in the Duke paperiess classroom,T.H.E. Journal, 23(3), 87–90.Google Scholar
  40. Strike, K.A. & Posner, G.J. (1992). A revisionist theory of conceptual change. In R. Duschl & R. Hamilton (Eds.),Philosophy of Science, Cognitive Psychology, and Educational Theory and Practice (pp. 147–176). Albany, NY: SUNY.Google Scholar
  41. Tobias, S. (1990).They’re not dumb, they’re different: Stalking the second tier. Tucson, AZ: Research Corporation.Google Scholar
  42. Tobin, K. (1986). Effects of teacher wait time on discourse characteristics in mathematics and language arts classes,American Educational Research Journal, 23, 191–200.Google Scholar
  43. Van Heuvelen, A. (1991). Overview, case study physics,American Journal of Physics, 59, 898–907.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. von Glasersfeld, E. (1989). Cognition, construction of knowledge, and teaching,Synthese, 80, 121–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. von Glasersfeld, E. (1992). A constructivist’s view of learning and teaching. In R. Duit, F. Goldberg & H. Niedderer (Eds.),The proceedings of the international workshop on research in physics education: Theoretical issues and empirical studies (Bremen, Germany, March 5–8, 1991). Kiel, Germany: IPN.Google Scholar
  46. Vygotsky, L.S. (1978).Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Wandersee, J.H. (1983). Students’ misconceptions about photosynthesis: A cross-age study. In H. Helm & J. Novak (Eds.),Proceedings of the international seminar on misconceptions in science and mathematics (pp. 441–465). Ithaca, NY: Department of Education, Cornell University.Google Scholar
  48. Wilson, J. (1994, December). The CUPLE physics studio,The Physics Teacher, 32, 518–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. Dufresne
    • 1
    Email author
  • William J. Gerace
    • 1
  • William J. Leonard
    • 1
  • Jose P. Mestre
    • 1
  • Laura Wenk
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MassachusettsUSA

Personalised recommendations