Part 1: Spring 2015 Labs

10 Top Hat with Ed Hubbard — 04.24.2015

Ed HubbardIn the Active Teaching Lab on April 24, 2015, Ed Hubbard shared a learning sciences perspective on using the Top Hat student response system to keep students engaged in lectures.

Key Takeaways

  • There’s a distinction between studying (information encoding into long term memory) and testing (information retrieval from long term memory). The problem in learning is mostly about retrieval!
  • Use of Student Response Systems (SRS) for frequent low-stakes formative assessment increases Information Retrieval, which is much more effective in reinforcing learning than less-frequent, higher-stakes summative assessments (e.g. mid-terms, finals).
  • In order for SRS to improve grades significantly, they must be used for ~20% of grade; less than 10% and all you get are student complaints — “attendance can be increased if clicker points are worth just 10% of the course grade (Caldwell, unpublished observations). Other instructors, however, report that when clickers contribute 5% or less to the course grade, their effect on attendance remains negligible.” (in Caldwell, Jane E. 2007. “Clickers in the Large Classroom: Current Research and Best-Practice Tips.” CBE—Life Sciences Education Journal Vol. 6, Spring, page 13).
  • Choose questions that challenge students and inspire peer conversations. If questions are dumb students feel insulted.

If you’re interested in getting up and running with TopHat, watch the videos below and try stepping through the TopHat worksheet we created for this session!

The Active Teaching Lab, a Faculty Engagement program, provides a safe space for structured explorations of cool teaching tools and techniques that your colleagues are using to engage students and teach more effectively. During the academic year, labs are held weekly and will be listed on the Active Teaching Lab page.

Ed’s Top Hat Story

The School of Nursing has posted some resources about TopHat as well, including a screencast overview of how to use it.


Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

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