Digital connection in a physical classroom: clickers and the student-teacher relationship

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Stephanie Sedberry Carrino (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Kathy Hytten

Abstract: Education is fundamentally relational, and the student-teacher relationship is central to student learning. However, high-enrollment classrooms, now common on college campuses, limit student-faculty interaction and opportunities for relationship building. “Clickers” facilitate communication in large classes, but there is a lack of research on the potential relational functions of this technology. This study addresses this gap in the literature by asking: How might the use of clickers in the classroom contribute to the student-teacher relationship? Employing a mixed-method descriptive research design, I created and analyzed three data sets to respond to this question: I observed 3 large clicker-based classes, surveyed students to explore their perceptions of clicker use and student-teacher relational dimensions, and I interviewed a subset of students for assistance interpreting the results. Data analyses resulted in four general findings: clickers can be used for multiple purposes and ends; clickers facilitate aspects of the student-teacher pedagogical relationship; clicker communication is not perceived as comprising a student-teacher relationship; and clickers are viewed as a tool for collective rather than individual communication and dialogue. Clickers may have value as relational tools, as they facilitate some aspects of the student-teacher relationship. The frame of the technology may explain why only some relational dimensions are facilitated, and not others. More research is needed to explore how clickers and other educational technologies may facilitate the student-teacher relationship.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Clickers, Educational technology, Large class size, Pedagogy, Sociocultural theory, Student-teacher relationship
Student response systems
Educational technology
Education, Higher $x Effect of technological innovations on
Communication in higher education
Teacher-student relationships
Class size

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