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Response Boxes Revolutionize Physics Classes

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Response boxes revolutionize physics classes


Full professor-researchers in physics at UPMC have decided to provide their students with remote response boxes to answer questions during lectures. The objective is to measure directly the students’ understanding of the key points in their classes.

How does it work? When a difficult concept is discussed during a class, the professor asks a multiple choice question to the students, who then answer individually and anonymously using a response box. The teacher therefore has real-time information on student understanding. If a point is not well understood, the teacher encourages students to discuss and explain their responses to each other.

Tested with students and professors

These innovative teaching methods with interactive boxes have been tested with more than 800 students last year at UPMC, and have been renewed this year. First seen in the United States, this approach has had very positive effects on student motivation and participation. Fabrice Chemla, vice president of education and training, says "UPMC's educational priorities are to promote creative and innovation teaching, particularly at the bachelor’s level. This experiment is directly supports this because it significantly increases student learning. The goal now is to apply these practices as widely as possible to all education departments at UPMC.'

The boxes have attracted students and teachers. Teachers have stated that it really helps awaken students and highlights some concepts that can go unnoticed in a lecture. The use of the response box enabled the students to be more active and in the loop and encouraged them to be more interactive with the professor and not sit passive in their seats.