Classes that click: Fast rich feedback to enhance student learning and satisfaction

John C. Chen, Dexter C. Whittinghill, Jennifer A. Kadlowec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Our goal is to improve student learning in foundation engineering courses. These courses are prerequisite to many higher-level courses and are comprised of critically needed concepts and skills. We hypothesize that learning is improved by providing rapid feedback to students on their understanding of key concepts and skills. Such feedback also provides students with insight into their strategies for learning. In two consecutive years, we conducted this study in two sections of a lower-level engineering mechanics course, Statics. One author taught both sections and a crossover design of experiment was used. In a crossover design, one section was randomly chosen to receive feedback with handheld computers (the "treatment" group) while the other received the "control," which was either a feedback system using flashcards (in year 1) or no feedback (year 2). After a certain period, the two sections swapped the treatment and control. Student performance on a quiz at the end of each treatment period provided the data for comparison using an analysis of variance model with covariates. Findings from year 1 showed that there was no significant difference using either rapid-feedback method. In year 2 we found a significant and positive effect when students received feedback. This is a noteworthy finding, albeit within the constraints of the environment in which we conducted the study, that provides more evidence for the value of rapid feedback and the currently popular "clickers" that many professors are employing to promote classroom interaction and student engagement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-168
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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