Chances and Risks of Using Clicker Software in XL Engineering Classes – From Theory to Practice

Valerie Stehling,  Ursula Bach,  René Vossen,  Sabina Jeschke
IMA/ZLW & IfU, RWTH Aachen University


Teaching and learning in XXL-classes is a huge challenge to both lecturers as well as students. While lecturers face the difficulty of speaking to a mostly loud and very heterogenic audience, students often lack the opportunity of being an active participant in class. To counteract these difficulties and give the opportunity of immediate feedback, an audience response system has been introduced in the class of information technology in mechanical engineering at RWTH Aachen University. To most American students and lecturers the use of clicker systems in class is very common. At German universities, though, the use of clicker systems or clicker software is not as widely spread yet. It is, though, even for American standards, a very special situation that RWTH Aachen University is dealing with: RWTH Aachen University’s engineering classes often face more than 1000 – in the described lecture even up to 2000 – students in one lecture. Most clicker literature, however, only deals with implementing clicker systems in classes with up to a few hundred students. The paper presents, classifies and critically analyzes clicker questions from the lecture and their results. Reviewing the results from the evaluation by students of the lecture shall then allow for a comparison of the intended goals with the actual outcomes from the students’ point of view. The results of the analysis will then allow for an adjustment and improvement of the concept and may in the future give support to lecturers of XXL-classes that intend to implement an audience response system in their own lecture.