Academic Technology Center
Teaching with Technology Collaboratory

How the Classroom Performance System (CPS) Aids in Teaching and Learning

Professor Chrysanthe Demetry of Mechanical Engineering

"The Classroom Performance System is a formative assessment tool that gives me an accurate sense of how my students are learning the material while at the same time encouraging an active learning environment."
-Chrysanthe Demetry

"Chrys's interactive lectures encouraged me to take an active role in my own education."
Anonymous Student from A'04

Chrysanthe Demetry has been using the Classroom Performance System (CPS) since the spring of 2004 when she introduced the technology into her large enrollment Intro to Materials Science course. After attending a presentation by Dr. Eric Mazur from Harvard University on Classroom Demonstrations, she became interested in Mazur's research, which included classroom electronic polling systems. Demetry began as a novice CPS user, but through her success and response to student feedback, the Classroom Performance System has become an integral part of her course. She relies heavily on it to ensure that students are getting the most out of her lectures and actively learning the material.

Demetry has always recognized the value of active and collaborative learning. In her classes prior to using CPS, she asked for student feedback based on a show of hands. However, this technique was not reliable, as not all students would raise their hands to answer a question. The CPS technology assists Demetry in gaining an accurate sense of how students are doing in her courses while allowing the students to be anonymous in their responses.

Demetry's main interest in first experimenting with CPS was to transform her class from the traditional passive lecture environment to a more interactive format where the large enrollment would not hinder a discussion or discourage student questions. With CPS, Demetry can pose a question to her class and observe whether or not students are learning and understanding the material almost immediately. If many students answer a question incorrectly, she can discuss the question, explain the answer or methodology and then continue on with her lecture. If all students respond with the correct answer, Demetry knows that she can focus on other more difficult topics.

"Chrysanthe Demetry used CPS to gain a better understanding of what material to review without having to single out students. I found I had to pay attention more because there is a difference between reading a question and thinking I could solve it, and actually having to select an answer."
Denise Donoghue CM '06

CPS is not just a benefit for Demetry. For the students in her course, CPS makes the class more interesting. According to a survey she gave regarding the tool and her use of it, more than 90% of her students strongly agree that Demetry should continue using CPS. Because of CPS, Demetry's students feel more connected to her and engaged in the course as it progresses through the term. A former student states: "I like the method of teaching Professor Demetry used. Classes would be more involved and interesting if others used the same approach instead of just lecturing for 50 minutes."

Michael Cretella (ECE '07), a former student in Demetry's course, discusses the anonymity benefits of CPS: "Sometimes students can be too shy to raise their hands if they don't understand something, and using this tool helps guide the professor to the student's understanding of the material." Another student states, "I like CPS because I can see when I'm not the only one who is confused." Demetry knows that many students are afraid to raise their hands and question. By using CPS, she knows when students are not clear and need to spend more class time on the material.

The questions Demetry uses in lecture depend largely on feedback from quizzes she posts each day on myWPI. Students are required to read material from their textbooks and then take a quiz within myWPI prior to the next class. Demetry then evaluates the scores and bases her lecture, and CPS questions, on the concepts students did not quite grasp in their quizzes. After she poses a question and students have responded, they go over the results as a class, spending more time where students need clarification. A small portion of a students' final course grade also includes attendance at lecture, which is based on whether or not a student responds to posed questions with their assigned CPS response pad.

"Materials Science with Chrysanthe Demetry was, honestly, the best class I've taken at WPI and I think part of the credit can be credited to the Classroom Performance System. The CPS is a great way to actively engage students in a lecture-style learning environment."
Koren Roach BE '07

Demetry strongly recommends that more faculty try using CPS in their courses. It has changed her teaching and helped her students to understand and do better in her course. The technology can be used to cater to varying teaching and learning styles, something Demetry values. Above all else, getting students excited about learning should be reason enough to experiment with CPS. Former student Antonio Juarez (ME '07) states: "As in most large classes, most of the students were passive learners, but in Professor Demetry's class she forced us, in a good way, to learn, to really get involved, and to stay motivated and interested."

Chrysanthe Demetry has also published a research article on CPS and learning styles in the 2005 American Society for Engineering Annual Conference and Exposition Proceedings. View a PDF of the article: Use of Educational Technology to Transform the 50-Minute Lecture: Is Student Response Dependent on Learning Style? (PDF).

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Last modified: Aug 30, 2005, 13:49 EDT
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