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Ecology - Science Policy

Using Peer Discussion Facilitated by Clicker Questions in an Informal Education Setting: Enhancing Farmer Learning of Science
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Author: Michelle K. Smith et al.

by Michelle K. Smith, Seanna L. Annis, Jennifer J. Kaplan, Frank Drummond

Blueberry growers in Maine attend annual Cooperative Extension presentations given by university faculty members. These presentations cover topics, such as, how to prevent plant disease and monitor for insect pests. In 2012, in order to make the sessions more interactive and promote learning, clicker questions and peer discussion were incorporated into the presentations. Similar to what has been shown at the undergraduate level, after peer discussion, more blueberry growers gave correct answers to multiple-choice questions than when answering independently. Furthermore, because blueberry growers are characterized by diverse levels of education, experience in the field etc., we were able to determine whether demographic factors were associated with changes in performance after peer discussion. Taken together, our results suggest that clicker questions and peer discussion work equally well with adults from a variety of demographic backgrounds without disadvantaging a subset of the population and provide an important learning opportunity to the least formally educated members. Our results also indicate that clicker questions with peer discussion were viewed as a positive addition to university-related informal science education sessions.