Posted by: Theresa Nelson Miller | October 24, 2011

Demographic Data Filtering with iClicker

Faculty who use iClicker, the recently adopted classroom response system at UMass Boston, may be happy to know that iClicker has released a new version of their software that provides new demographics polling and filtering features. With the demographics filtering feature, instructors and students can take a look at how students’ backgrounds may influence their opinion on a particular topic or current event discussed in class.

iClickers are easy-to-use hand-held remote devices with buttons that students use to answer multiple choice questions posed by their instructors. The iClicker system collects all of the student responses and delivers them to the instructor via the iClicker receiver attached to the instructor’s computer. A graphical/statistical distribution of the voting results can be shared with the students via the classroom projection screen.

Collection of demographic data is done as a one-time process, at the beginning of the semester. Faculty may select or edit demographic questions from a list of common demographic questions that come with iClicker or they may create their own questions to use to poll the students. iClicker stores the answers to the demographic questions automaticallyas well as anonymously. Subsequently, when the instructor poses new questions to the students, the voting data can then be shared with the class in chart format and the results can be filtered by demographic data.

For example, after polling his students with the demographic questions, such as age or socioeconomic status, an instructor presents a slide asking students “How do you prefer to get your news?” along with the possible answers being A. Television, B. Newspapers, C. Radio, D. Internet or E. Other. When the polling period ends, the instructor displays a chart of the voting results, and selects “Age” from the demographic filtering icon on the chart. The example chart below displays a breakdown of how students in the “19 – 24” age group get their news as opposed to the “25 – 40” age group. If the instructor wanted to filter by socioeconomic status next, he would select that option next from the demographic filtering options.

Figure 1 iClicker Results Chart with Demographic Filtering

Demographic filtering can serve as a powerful tool for opening up further discussion about a topic. Another instructor teaching an Introduction to Psychology class may want to poll herstudents on how they viewparticular traits of their own personality, and then relate the information to demographic information collected earlier from the classroom about gender, or birth order perhaps. Sharing the demographic information offers students a unique opportunity to assimilate concepts being presentedin class and to relate the informationto their own experiencesas well as the experiences of their peers.

Even though demographic data is collected anonymously with iClicker, there are some privacy implications to consider when asking demographic questions. For more information about this topic visit http://derekbruff.com/teachingwithcrs/?p=990.

In addition to demographic polling, the new version of iClicker, version 6.1.4available in Windows and Macintosh formats, is speedier, has a cleaner interface and now allows instructors to create question lists ahead of time. Question lists allow instructors to pre-program the correct answers for questions as well as set properties for individual questions ahead of time.The software can be downloaded at http://iclicker.com.

If you are you interested in trying iClicker in your classes or are a veteran user of the system interested in learning about the new features, sign up for a training session by visiting the Training Portal at http://www.umb.edu/training. More information about iClicker is available on our website at http://www.umb.edu/it/getting_services/instructional_support/iclicker_personal_response_systems_at_umb/

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