Read another paper today, “Classroom Response and Communication Systems: Research Review and Theory“.

Yet again, it says none of the existing research findings are reliable enough:

A total of 26 studies report outcomes (listed in full paper). The most commonly reported outcomes are: greater student engagement (16 studies), increased understanding of subject matter (11), increased enjoyment of class (7), better group interaction (6), helping students gauge their own understanding (5), and teachers have better awareness of student difficulties (4)

This body of evidence, taken together, is suggestive of a real and important phenomenon at hand. However, none of the available studies rises to the present specification of ‚Äúscientifically based research‚ÄĚ that would allow inferences about causal relationships or that could form the basis for estimating the magnitude of the effect.

This one’s from 2004, so maybe it’s too old to matter. Or perhaps they’re looking for undue process. Is it unreasonable to expect someone to accept overwhelming consensus? Is it reasonable to expect proof in a complex problem space where mathematical proof is impossible? On the other hand – in every paper I read on this topic there seems to be a predisposition to praise clickers.

Perhaps if someone set off to find the problems with clickers rather than articulate yet another benefit – it would help companies fix those problems. Negative doesn’t mean bad.