[Clickers in upper division physics] 2. What kinds of questions do we ask?

by Stephanie Chasteen on May 21, 2009

This is my second post in a series about using clickers in the upper division.

A lot of people have trouble imagining what kinds of questions you might ask at the upper division. The challenge is to make them tough, but not too tough. You want students to have to think and argue about them, but you don’t want to make them so hard that students are just stuck. Some example question types are:

  • conceptual
  • math/physics connection
  • application of ideas
  • step in calculation, proof or derivation

Here are some example questions from a few different courses:

Here is a video showing how one instructor used clickers in his upper division courses — this is a great little video, which really shows the thought process going into each question

Video: What kinds of questions do we ask in upper division? (2 min)

And while we’re on the subject of clickers, here are a few very useful books on using them in the classroom:

Peer Instruction is the “bible” of clicker usage, including sample questions in physics. This text will change the way you teach! Derek Bruff’s new book Teaching with Classroom Response Systems comes highly recommended by Eric Mazur himself, which is high praise! Doug Duncan’s Clickers in the Classroom is a short and pithy gold standard of how to use Peer Instruction in the classroom.


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