Dr Curro Martinez-Mora in the School of Business has been using Top Hat extensively in the delivery of his Intermediate Microeconomics (EC2002/EC2012) course, working closely with one of his students, Nathaniel Patel, on a Digital Innovation Partnership (DIP) project.
The objectives of the project were to make use of technological tools, in particular Top Hat, to promote active learning and increase student engagement, attendance and participation inside and outside the classroom. The ultimate goal was to increase student learning and satisfaction.
Top Hat allows you to set questions which students can access during a lecture on their own device, or as homework or pre-work outside of teaching sessions, which allows you to make your lectures more interactive and to continue discussions outside the classroom. Top Hat has several types of questions, as well as discussions and file sharing functions.
Curro has been using Top Hat in three main ways:
Lecture Questions Competition
He prepared approximately five multiple choice or true-false questions for every lecture. These were asked at specific points during the teaching session and students were given some time to think and submit an answer. The questions were based on the material covered in the current or previous lectures, which provided incentives for students to look at the material in advance of and after the lecture and also to pay attention during the lecture.
For each question answered, students obtained 0.5 points for participation and 0.5 additional points if their answer was the correct one. Top Hat registered all student answers and allowed Curro to prepare and publish a ‘League Table’ after the lecture. Student participation and engagement increased by their intrinsic motivation to do well in the competition and was further encouraged with the establishment of monetary prizes.
These questions during the lecture also provided students with an opportunity to relax, talk to their classmates for a moment and renew their attention span.
Classroom Experiments and Games
With the help of Top Hat, students played a classroom experiment to replicate the problem of the so-called Tragedy of the Commons (an economic problem in which every individual tries to reap the greatest benefit from a given resource). Additionally, they played another game – the beauty contest game – that challenged their understanding of game theory, one of the theoretical tools used profusely in Microeconomics. Students will play one more game either during the revision period or in the revision lecture in early May.
Voting over issues related to the module
Students were allowed to vote on issues related to the delivery of the module. For instance, they voted on the time of the mid-term test and on how to resolve an issue that emerged with a student’s answer to one question. During the Tragedy of the Commons experiment, they also voted over several technologies that changed the incentives of the game. Additionally, as an ice-breaker, in the first lecture students voted on whether they thought Brexit would take place at the end of March or not, something the group guessed correctly!
Curro does not yet have attendance data, but his own observations have clearly suggested a significant increase in attendance in comparison with previous years, when the number of students was about ten percent larger. Student comments on Top Hat have been very positive, and many commented on the use of Top Hat in their module evaluations, some of which are listed below.
“I enjoyed the presentation of the module in lectures, Curro did a good job in engaging the class in the lectures by trying out the use of Top Hat.”
“I really like the Top Hat questions to keep me engaged, lectures are well structured and easy to follow.”
“Lecturer was brilliant, provided a unique and interesting way of engaging students in discussion and ensuring participation through his lecture competition questions.”
“The module leader is very invested in teaching – the use of top hat engages students and going out of his way to run additional games with incentives for increased grade is very useful.”
“Second semester lecturer Curro Martinez-Mora made the lectures very informative and easy to learn from, he also made it interactive using Top Hat making us feel engaged and challenging us to learn the content.”
For more information about Top Hat and how you could use it to enhance student learning, please email firstname.lastname@example.org