iTeach Instructional Resources

Faculty Testimonials


Throughout the academic year, iTeach will pose questions to campus faculty concerning instruction and instructional technology. The questions asked will relate very broadly to some aspect of education and teaching at UC Riverside. We hope that responses will provide insights into teaching strategies and will promote collaboration and sharing of instructional successes.

On Clickers

Throughout the Clicker pilot program, which has been ongoing since Spring 2004, Computing and Communications has been actively seeking feedback from our faculty partners in this project. Below, is a compilation of the feedback received to date:

What are 'clickers'?

...new low cost, incarnation of the older audience response systems that used to be very expensive, so I think what they are is a vehicle to get at information about a student's knowledge and to make on the spot decisions about what you are actually presenting in class.

Curt Burgess, Professor of Psychology

Use of statistical polling

doing this verbal polling can be done verbally but the most common response is apathy- [audience response] might cause the student to actually take a physical action. - Force them to take an opinion on the issue and if they got it right they could feel good, if they got it wrong, they could worry.

Robert Hanneman, Professor of Sociology


Use during lecture

Resounding yes! They [students] are going to have to be able to work with it. One of the caveats is that you cannot teach them a concept and test them immediately -- that doesn't work with any system let alone clickers. They need time to digest it, you have to resist the urge to test immediately, unless there is some part of it that really is very straightforward, but I would definitely recommend it to all faculty to all sciences especially in these upper division courses, they are dry, dense -- they're full of material. It's a really nice way to break up the lecture.

Morris Maduro, Assistant Professor of Biology

It really does break up some of the lecture – it does energize the audience - the students learn better when there is some level of emotional arousal - the higher the energy, the greater the learning. These devices do seem to have that kind of positive effect on the energy of the room. The biggest problem you have is calming them down after having used the device, which is a greater problem than having to get them to pay attention.

Robert Hanneman, Professor of Sociology

My advice would be to seriously consider using it. It definitely engages the students. By definition, when you ask a class to give a show of hands for some particular reason, if you want to find out how much of a class understands something, has heard something before, you don't get an accurate estimate for that, a lot of people don't want to raise their hands. A lot of people are embarrassed to say or state their answers in front of other people. Everyone needs to respond because you are getting at least some minimal credit for doing so. And it's anonymous, so my experience is that students love doing it.

Curt Burgess, Professor of Psychology

Any surprises?

The thing that surprised me the most was the way to get an instant survey of opinions, so much so that I devoted the very last lecture to non-credit, just show up and answer. It turned out to be the best-attended lecture. Only one student was missing and they all had their clickers.

Morris Maduro, Assistant Professor of Biology

The engagement of the students was fantastic, in the beginning of the quarter; they were all a little leery about it. They didn't like the idea of having this extra thing they had to buy -- they had to use. But by the middle of the quarter, they were begging for more questions. I would ask the question they'd give the answer, they'd all go AH or OOH. They all respond. When I was finished, or started lecturing, sometimes they would yell out, could we have another question! So it was almost like a game, but it actually made them get involved in the class and think about the physics. And a couple times, I would do things where I knew most of them would get it wrong, and they actually enjoyed that. And they'd see they all got it wrong and I'd go explain it to them. Then I'd give them a real easy one and they'd think it was a trick question and it wasn't. So it was kind of a game. But they seemed to really get engaged that way and it was better than it would have been. The enthusiasm of the class was raised by the clickers.

Jory Yarmoff, Professor of Physics

On iLearn

How has Blackboard (iLearn) changed, modified or impacted the way you think about and conduct your teaching?

Here is a selection of responses:

This term [Fall 2003] was the first where we used the discussion board feature extensively in the introductory course. I found it of great value and am therefore putting participation in web-based discussion forums as part of the course requirements from here on.

Christine Gailey, Professor of Anthropology, Chair, Dept. of Women Studies

I think that Blackboard has enabled access to and organization of class material that would otherwise be diffuse for undergrads. The staff who run Blackboard have been quite helpful in organizing the material prior to the course starting so that cuts down on time during the quick quarter to have to rearrange things.

Linda Fernandez, Asst. Professor of Economics, Dept of Environmental Sciences

I have found Blackboard to be very helpful in supplementing communication with my students.

However, I cannot say it has in any way changed, modified, or impacted the way I think about and conduct teaching, because I have used it since the beginning of my teaching career.

Sang-Hee Lee, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Anthropology

I would say that the chief change is in being able to place my high tech slides on line so that the students can listen to lecture rather than take notes all the time. Of course this is a two-edged sword because it reduces attendance."

William Jury, Distinguished Professor of Soil Physics and Soil Physicist, Dept. of Environmental Sciences

Blackboard has vastly improved my ability to communicate with the good students in large classes. I do not use its "chat room" and "white board" options. I mean that it gives me the opportunity to share all the resources that are valuable for students but too expensive (wasteful) to distribute to everyone in paper format.

Pete Sadler, Professor of Geology, Earth Sciences

I use it a lot to post announcements and hand outs. I see Blackboard as wholly positive and haven't had any negative experiences with it at all.

Karen Pyke, Assistant Professor of Sociology Dept. of Sociology

...I do find parts of it very valuable. It does facilitate the distribution of materials to the students. It also facilitates communication, both through email (with the email lists maintained by the system) and the announcement board. I also REALLY [like] the Discussionforums, for it allows me to painlessly expand the scope of the course to cover topics I don't have time to cover in class (student must post summaries of articles on topics each week for their discussion credit).

John Gerdes, Assistant Professor of Information Systems, A Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management

I will definitely answer and my answer is that Blackboard has made all the difference in the world to my teaching and that the impact is overwhelmingly positive.

Susan Carter, Professor of Economics, Dept. of Economics

Ilearn [Blackboard] has impacted my teaching in a positive way. Communicating with my students, particularly those students in my larger classes, is much easier since there is a "common area" for us to go to outside of the confines of the classroom. And, students are able to communicate with each other more frequently, outside of class, given Blackboard, which I think makes for a more cohesive class when we meet. Assignments and grading is much easier as well.

...This means that my teaching style has become more flexible, over time, as I increasingly rely on this technology to educate.

Jan Stets, Professor of Sociology, Dept. of Sociology

My general view is that if an image is important enough to teaching the class that I want to use lecture time to project it on the screen, either by overhead projector or by PowerPoint, then it is important enough that the students should have a paper or electronic copy of that image. With PowerPoint images, Blackboard is certainly the way to deliver these images to the students.

Eugene Nothnagel, Professor of Plant Physiology and Plant Physiologist, Chair, Botany and Plant Sciences

Blackboard is a welcomed assist to teaching. It allows instant access to all course information and simultaneous, instant communication with the class. It provides a means easily linking to web based support including review of video recorded lectures. It provides an instant record of grades with access from any location. I would suffer without it.

Paul Quinton, Professor of Biomedical Sciences, UCR/UCLA Biomedical Sciences

I can certainly say (1) BB[iLearn] has fundamentally changed the way I teach this large course [Macroeconomics 540 students), (2) given student's expectations and national standards, I couldn't do with out, and (3) I look forward to future enhancements.

Richard Sutch, Distinguished Professor of Economics, Dept. of Economics

Multimedia Technology Surveys

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