Please download the SOCRATIVE STUDENT app. You will be prompted during this case study to tackle some questions to get a feel for how SOCRATIVE works.
Today’s ‘12 Apps of Christmas’ case study features an app SOCRATIVE by MasteryConnect. The website describes it as the app for fun and effective classroom engagement providing an instant insight into student learning with easy-to-create quizzes and polls. Socrative permits the creation of quizzes or polls for use in a lecture setting. Students get presented with the question(s) on their mobile device (smart phone, tablet, iPad, laptop) which they can respond to. Question types can be multiple-choice, true/false or short answer. The lecturer has the choice of distributing the quiz anonymously or by requiring a student’s name. They can also choose to provide feedback for each question. The quiz can be lecturer paced or student paced.
Both the STUDENT and the TEACHER app are available to download FREE on the App Store, Chrome Web Store and Google Play. There is also a web based interface available (http://www.socrative.com/ ). There is a pro version available for instructors costing $49.99.
A 23 min YouTube tutorial is available below:
Who am I?
I am Alice Luby and I am a lecturer in Accounting at the Dublin Institute of Technology. My timetabled hours are primarily in lecturing on accounting modules to first year undergraduate students in the College of Business. The Socrative app has been used with five class groups per academic year, which involve up to 250 students. I have used clickers (personal response systems) for more than five years in lecture delivery. The Socrative app provides an alternative approach when student paced delivery is essential.
The Case Study
With modules such as accounting it is vital that students engage in the concepts being presented and can apply the knowledge adequately to enable them to tackle examination questions. There are many students within each cohort that have no prior knowledge of business or accounting and who also find numeric content hard to grasp. It is particularly important to build confidence with these students.
When Socrative is being considered the initial opinion is to use it to encourage students to engage with content being presented during a lecture or to test basic knowledge at the start or end of a lecture, perhaps in a similar way to clickers. However, Socrative enables questions to be presented to students on their own mobile device (phone, tablet or laptop) rather than displayed embedded into a PowerPoint presentation projected on a screen in the lecture room. This facilitates students working at their own pace, within a classroom setting. It is ideal in larger groups where it is generally difficult to enable students to work through material at their own pace and to gauge their ability in working through numeric content.
Clickers and polling apps are excellent at encouraging students to apply basic knowledge in standalone questions. However, this sometimes results in students feeling they ‘know it all’ if they are competently tackling in-class multiple choice style questions and they don’t progress to tackling the longer examination style question. Also some students can easily be overwhelmed by the detail in examination style questions and shy away from attempting them. This case study is based on an approach which centres on using Socrative to provide step by step sub-questions in order to build student confidence in tackling larger examination style questions.
The decision was to use Socrative as a tool to encourage first year accounting students to tackle examination style questions in a tutorial setting. This involved breaking down an exam question into a series of multiple choice or text input questions that would step or lead the student through the exam question. The feedback line within Socrative was used to explain in detail what the correct answer was and why others may not have been appropriate. Students were encouraged to have the app downloaded on their mobile device and use it during the tutorial to help them progress through a specified examination question.
Type in 12APPS when prompted which room. Answer question #1 ONLY at this time.
Benefits (Lecturer): The aim of using Socrative in the tutorial was to facilitate students progressing through a question at their own pace by providing step by step sub-questions acting as prompts. This clearly has benefits for students. There are also benefits for the lecturer who can see how well the whole class is progressing through the question on the lecturer login. This facilities the lecturer judging the pace of each student as well as displaying the sections of the question that students are typically having difficulty with. When it becomes apparent that a significant portion of students are struggling with a specific concept, the lecturer can intervene and provide group instruction and support. It also means that the lecturer doesn’t have twenty or more hands raised looking for one-to-one support.
Concerns (Lecturer): It does take time to develop each quiz set, and it is challenging to provide appropriate and balanced feedback for each step. On occasions WIFI connection caused a problem and with two tutorial groups there appeared to be a problem with iPhones (4, 5 and 6) on a particular question preventing iPhone users from completing the sequence of questions.
Student feedback: Among the five tutorial groups, between 86% and 100% of students surveyed stated they were in favour of using Socrative as a tutorial tool. Students appear to find it useful stating, that it was a ‘good way to practice and to get your head around questions’. It was noticed that it does help them progress through an exam style question; ‘it helped you step by step when doing a question’ and it ‘led you through what you should be writing’. They also seemed to learn as they progressed through the series of steps stating; ‘a great way to learn, as the explanations allow you to improve throughout the questions’. For some, the reassurance they received, when what they thought was correct was beneficial; ‘very helpful and allows you to move through questions knowing you’re right’. While others reported that it was ‘helpful because you learn from it and you learn from your mistakes’. Overall students appreciated alternatives to the traditional delivery mode; ‘practice makes you better than only listening and writing notes, that is why the clickers are also really good’. Providing appropriate feedback is the key to using Socrative as a tutorial tool; ‘I like the approach because I like the way it shows how you went wrong’. It was also noted that the lecturer could spend their time differently; ‘allowed the lecturer to easily talk with her students’. A very useful comment summed it up well by saying it identified what they struggled on and allowed them to focus on what they couldn’t do well.
It is important to also look at the less favourable comments. Some students felt it was slow and if they knew what they were doing they would choose to move ahead without it. This was acceptable as the aim of the initiative was to help those who lacked confidence, not those who had mastered the topic. In survey comments, one student wisely warned ‘I could become too dependent on it and solely rely on it as a ‘solutions pack’ rather than a tool to guide me in coming up with the answer for myself’. A number of students were honest enough to admit that as it was on their phone there was the tendency to look at social media. There was a reasonable amount of comments regarding poor WIFI. While some students identified that they ‘I felt at ease that I could go at my own pace’, worryingly the approach did seem to isolate some weaker students with comments such as ‘the feeling of being way behind the rest of the class as we work at our own paces’. Over than WIFI issues the biggest drawback is only being able to set one question (Quiz) at a time and having to end it when the tutorial time was up, due to using the free version.
This leads to the next stage, which is upgrade to Socrative Pro which costs $49.99 so multiple rooms can be used facilitating students working on questions outside of the tutorial and the ability to provide support for more than one topic at a time.
The key with any learning initiative is to ensure that it is benefitting students and improving their learning. There is a place for Socrative in tutorials, just like there is a place for clickers in a lecture presentation. However, it is important for students not to become dependent on these tools as they still have to attempt a traditional examination paper. If there are to be two tutorials on a specific topic, a Socrative lead question in the first tutorial will support students as they are grappling with new concepts however, it is important to facilitate them tackling an exam standard question without the tools and support in the following tutorial so they develop their skills and do not become dependent on the support provided by the technology.
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