Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Another Cheer for Clicker Technology
Miriam Cherry on Concurring Opinions has a fun and informative post about gaming in the classroom. She mentioned "clicker technology," and the basic setup is that the students have these clickers and they can use them to answer multiple choice questions that a professor can throw out on an overhead. I've been using clicker technology this semester, and I really dig it. It's useful in a lot of ways. You can certainly use it to test students. I try to throw in a multiple choice question or two every now and then to make sure they're getting it. (I do not grade students on their answers; I understand that potential exists, but I am hesitant about that for various reasons.)
My point is that clickers can also be a good way to spark class discussions. A couple weeks back, my Contracts class did tortious interference with contract. We spent some time talking about alienation of affection, a tort in Mississsippi and a few other states under which a deserted spouse can bring suit against a third party alleged to be responsible for the failure of the marriage. Alienation of affection is an analogue to tortious interference -- take the elements of tortious interference, replace the word "contract" with the word "marriage," and basically you get alienation of affection.
So we read Fitch v. Valentine, a recent Mississippi Supreme Court case that, among other things, addressed whether to abolish the tort. I polled the class about whether, if they had been on the Fitch court, they would have voted to abolish or retain it. I also had them (anonymously) indicate their genders, and broke the stats down. 79% of the women in the class said they would have voted to abolish the tort. But only 42% of the men would have done so. I was shocked at the seriousness of the disparity. And, as you can imagine, this fueled an interesting class discussion about contracts, law, and gender.
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