A Storm Trooper from Starwars stands in front of an iPod and looks puzzled

Think / Pair / Share with Clickers (Library Science)

Activity aim: To get students to apply course material to a real-life scenario

Materials: Printed worksheets, Plickers/Top Hat (learn more about Plickers here; learn more about Top Hat here)
Time estimated: 20 minutes
Prep for teacher: Set up Plicker questions, set up worksheets.
Note: designed for a class of <10 students.

  1. Prior to the class, the instructor will prepare enough copies of the worksheet described below so that each student has one. The instructor will also set up the Plicker or TopHat software with questions for voting. The voting questions will simply consist of each item on the Contents of the CD list below, with the choice to vote Yes or No.

  2. Each student will be given a worksheet containing the contents of a hypothetical CD and be given the following scenario. It’s helpful to discuss and review previous readings and lectures prior to the activity to help students prepare for the activity:

    “Let’s imagine, for this example, that you work in the Baruch university archives. Let’s say that one of your priorities is documenting student life here at Baruch, and you acquire a CD Rom from the performing arts department. The key principle is: anything you accession, is yours to manage forever. How do we decide whether it’s worth saving the items on the CD? What do we need to take into account?

    In making your selections, think about:

    • File Size
    • Format
    • Compression
    • Finished versions versus works in progress
    • Copyright
    • Ownership”

Contents of the CD:

    • Word documents of programs for a campus performance of the musical CATS from 2003
    • PDFs of posters from those performances
    • InDesign files for the layout of the posters
    • 200 digital photographs of the events, taken by a university photographer (JPEG format)
    • A video recording of the performance, unedited and uncompressed (MPEG format)
    • A video recording of the performance, edited slightly and compressed, with title cards (MPEG format)
    • MP3s of songs from the musical’s Original Broadway Recording album, purchased from ITunes”
3. Each student will be given a plicker or set up to use TopHat software for class voting. The instructor will explain how to use the plicker/TopHat for voting, as necessary.
4. After students read through the worksheet, the instructor will pull up the voting software and present the first question, whether to keep item 1 on the CD contents list:
      Word documents of programs for a campus performance of the musical CATS from 2003
      A. Yes
      B. No
5. Students will be asked to consider the question and vote on their own. Votes will be recorded and presented to the class.
6. Next, students will be paired off with the person next to them and asked to discuss their vote. If they voted the same way, they are asked to confer about their reasons for voting that way. If they voted differently, they are asked to try to explain their point of view and convince their partner to change their vote. This discussion will last 2-3 minutes.
7. After the discussion, students are asked to vote again on the same question. Results are posted. The instructor asks students to report some of their reasons for voting the way they did, and asks anyone who changed their vote why they did so. The instructor then provides their thinking on how they would vote and why. (Note: in this scenario, there are no right-and-wrong answers, just answers that are closer to best practices. Often you can make a case for selecting either answer, so it’s useful to have a bit of a discussion.) This discussion lasts 2-5 minutes, depending on the level of disagreement among the students and instructor.
8. Steps 3-7 will be repeated. For each pair discussion, students will be asked to pair with someone different if possible, rotating around the room. After the activity is complete, the instructor can provide concluding remarks.

This activity was developed by Jessica Wagner-Webster as part of the Baruch College Center for Teaching and Learning Summer Seminar on Active Learning.

Image Credit: JD Hancock

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