I mentioned this on twitter yesterday and several people were curious about my reasoning, so, FWIW, this is why I'm giving up on clickers:
First, some background. I am teaching a 30 student upper level class. I had slightly better use with clickers when I was teaching a class around 70 students, but in the smaller class it doesn't work as well. I also use several forms of classroom engagement, including think/pair/share and small group paper discussion followed by group presentations, etc.
- The primary reason is that they are too damn expensive. I was led to believe that every student would essentially have one because they supposedly use them in the early classes. In reality, only a small fraction of the students have the right model that works with the new software, so probably 60-70% of the class ends up buying them for my class. Considering that 85% of them are in their senior spring, this $60 seems like a poor investment.
- But wait, there's cheaper options! Yes, there are aps available that work with our system, but I honestly spend more time trouble shooting the connection than it is worth. Between getting it to work on my side and having them make sure they have it set on theirs, I get about half of the responses from those devices. And even when it's working, about two times during class the system will log me out and disrupt my slides.
- The information I get isn't as helpful as I had hoped. And this one might be on me, but I find that pretty much every question has about a 75% correct response rate. Perhaps I need to alter my questions to make them more challenging, but the idea of sinking a bunch more time into this technology I don't think is a huge benefit is not exactly enticing.
- Finally, the students aren't engaged by this method. They'll dutifully do it, but they either get the right or wrong answer and move on. On the rare occasion I find the class response to be closer to 50% correct, I already knew they were having trouble with a concept. Using the clickers to merely confirm what I can see on their faces is probably not the best use of technology.
So given my particular circumstance, I don't find the use of clickers in my class to be a major advantage, nor is it worth the monetary investment for my students. Therefore, I won't be using them next year.