Comparing Educational Tools Using Activity Theory: Clickers and Flashcards Documents

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Comparing Educational Tools Using Activity Theory: Clickers and Flashcards 

written by Edward Price, Charles J. De Leone, and Nathaniel Lasry

Physics educators and researchers have recently begun to distinguish between pedagogical approaches and the educational technologies that are used to implement them. For instance, peer instruction has been shown to be equally effective, in terms of student learning outcomes, when implemented with clickers or flashcards. Therefore, technological tools (clickers and flashcards) can be viewed as means to mediate pedagogical techniques (peer instruction or traditional instruction). In this paper, we use activity theory to examine peer instruction, with particular attention to the role of tools. This perspective helps clarify clickers' and flashcards' differences, similarities, impacts in the classroom, and utility to education researchers. Our analysis can suggest improvements and new uses. Finally, we propose activity theory as a useful approach in understanding and improving the use of technology in the physics classroom.

Published August 24, 2010
Last Modified November 3, 2010

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