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September 14, 2010 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Help me quiz, survey and question my students.

I teach a course entitled "Environment, technology and society" in an engineering college. This course covers many topics, including professional responsiblity, ethics, sustainable development... I have access to "clickers" that allow me to quiz my students anonymously and quickly display the results. I recently came across this questionnaire about "ethical orientation" and it struck as a possible way to initiate a class discussion about how we individually deal with ethical dillemmas. If this works, I might want to use this strategy for other topics.

So, I'd like suggestions of similar quiz or questionnaires that deal with issues such as attitude toward environmental protection, consumerism, sustainable development or any other topic you think might be of interest for the course (If you're not sure, simply post. I'll weed out what is not relevant)
posted by bluefrog to Education (3 answers total)
I'm a little fuzzy on the question, so forgive me if I'm way in left field, but...

It seems like environmental legislation is an area where people like to take insufficient knowledge & apply it to "real" or "perceived" problems. If you're looking at questionnaires and have classroom surveying technology at your disposal, why not take some hot-topic legislation and use your clickers & questionnaires to look at what people THINK is known about the subject of the legislation, what people think THEY know about the subject of legislation, and what is actual fact versus theory versus fiction. Basically, work up some questions, get their answers, then use the breakdown of their answers to the question as a way of looking at how politics & media & "folk knowledge" impact the practical application of science to the environment.
posted by Ys at 10:34 AM on September 14, 2010

As someone who's been in a number of classes with those clickers, used for everything from pop quizzes to seeing how well the class understands something just taught to cute little polls, let me just say that I really, really don't like them. They're useful for quickly gauging how well people understand a simple idea, or taking a quick poll where you need exact numbers, but I think they're a horribly impersonal way of dealing with a class.

You have this little questionnaire about ethical orientation. Cute. Doing that and getting some numbers, which is what the questionnaire gives you, tells you nothing. The interesting part of the exercise comes from everyone considering what those distinctions indicate about their personality. I don't see a clicker having any advantage with that over asking a question and telling them to think about it for a minute & write down their answer.
posted by devilsbrigade at 12:05 PM on September 14, 2010

devilsbrigade: I don't agree that "getting some numbers...tells you nothing". I think that having students ask a question and having them write down their answer does nothing. They're not really thinking about it, most of them probably aren't even answering it, and frankly I hate when teachers ask questions in class and then sit and wait for everyone to write something down...and even if I do write down my answer, that's not showing me the opinions of anyone else in the class. With clickers, I can give my answer...but I can also see how my answers compare to the other students in the class. Especially with something like ethics, what you think is correct will almost certainly not match the person next to you, and in my experience open-ended clicker questions can be a good segue into meaningful conversations.

OP, I can't help with questionnaires, but I just wanted to offer up that you will probably get a better discussion out of this if you ask ethical questions without any sort of "quiz" association attached. Approach them as purely discussion-based from the beginning, with the questions being used as an introduction/gauge for whatever discussion you'll be having.
posted by kro at 2:07 PM on September 14, 2010

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