Handheld devices can answer a question—even if a student is home sleeping.
David Massey for The Chronicle
Corey T. Shipeck, a business student at the U. of Florida, takes courses that require two different models of clicker. Some students bring multiple clickers to class to cover for late-sleeping roommates.
By Jie Jenny Zou
As soon as the handheld gadgets called "clickers" hit the University of Colorado at Boulder, Douglas Duncan saw cheating.
The astronomy instructor and director of the Fiske Planetarium was observing a colleague's physics class in 2002, when the university introduced the electronic devices that students use to respond to in-class questions. He glanced at the first row and saw a student with four clickers spread out before him. It turned out that only one was his—the rest belonged to his sleeping roommates.
The student was planning to help his absentee classmates by "clicking in" for the sleepers to mark them present. The physics professor had to tell the student that what he was doing was cheating.
Clickers—and the cheating problems that accompany them—have become a lot more common since that day, many instructors say. Today, more than 1,000 colleges in the United States use the devices, which look like TV remotes.