Making a difference with clickers: The role of individual differences when learning English vocabulary with clickers (Anne-Marie Sénécal & Walcir Cardoso, Concordia University, Canada)
Anne-Marie Sénécal & Walcir Cardoso, Concordia University, Canada
Title: Making a difference with clickers: The role of individual differences when learning English vocabulary with clickers
Keywords: Learner Response System (LRS); Clickers; Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL); Individual differences
Learner Response Systems (clickers) are voting systems that allow an entire class to anonymously respond to and receive feedback on multiple-choice questions displayed on a projector (see Mazur, 1997). Existing literature has associated clickers with benefits such as user anonymity (Cutrim Shmid, 2007), immediate multi-modal feedback (Hattie & Timperley, 2007), and peer instruction (Mazur, 1997). There is also a consensus that learners have overwhelmingly positive perceptions of the pedagogical use of clickers in general education (Wang, 2015) and in second language (L2) contexts (Cardoso, 2011). Despite this, the tool’s ability to contribute to learning remains inconclusive (Hunsu et al., 2015), possibly due to individual differences among learners (Landrum, 2015).
This study examined individual differences among a group of 61 students (age: 13-14) who participated in a project that explored the use of clickers in the learning of L2 English vocabulary. Over an eight-week period, students in the experimental (clicker-based instruction; n=31) and control groups (non-clicker-based instruction; n=30) engaged in vocabulary-building activities to learn a set of 30 target words. Vocabulary gains were measured via pretest-posttest-delayed posttests, while learner perceptions were measured using a survey questionnaire and open-ended individual interviews. The results suggested no significant difference in learning gains between both groups, but higher standard deviations were observed among participants in the clicker-instructed group, indicating high individual differences among members of that group (i.e., some participants improved significantly more than others). To provide an in-depth analysis of these disparities, we examined the profile of ten students who either benefited significantly from the clicker treatment (n=5), or who did not (n=5). Results suggest a positive correlation between the degree of learning gains and the participants’ perceptions of the pedagogical benefits of clickers, shedding light on how individuals react differently to technology when used in pedagogical settings (Venkatesh et al., 2010).