Macmillan Learning’s iClicker Focus Helps Students Improve Performance in Class

New Focus feature helps students manage the distractions that divide their attention while maintaining active learning in class

February 21, 2020

 

 

New York, February 21, 2020 -- Educational technology has the potential to substantially improve student success, particularly when it comes to active learning. Yet, many instructors are concerned about the impact of internet-enabled devices like laptops and phones in their classrooms, and research demonstrates that devices can divide student’s attention in class. Macmillan Learning’s new Focus feature in iClicker helps students manage the distractions that divide their attention while maintaining active learning in class, and new research has shown that use of Focus is related to increased student performance. The beta version is available now, and an updated version with additional features is expected to be widely available for the Fall 2020 semester. 

A study of more than 500 students found that the more students use the Focus feature, the better they do. While use of the feature was optional, the majority of students (92.8%) whose instructor chose to enable Focus, used it at least once. The research found that those who did use it earned, on average, a three percentage point improvement in performance for every 10% increase in classes the feature was used. Students who used Focus for at least 80% of their classes saw a seven percentage point difference in their grades. The improved performance as Focus was used was true for both more- and less-academically prepared students.

The iClicker engagement tools, including the Focus feature, can be used on laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. Instructors can use iClicker to take attendance, facilitate active learning activities and complete in-class quizzes using mobile devices or iClicker remotes. The new Focus feature promotes self-regulating behavior by requesting that students stay engaged solely with the iClicker app for the duration of the class session, reducing multitasking and distracting behaviors during class. Following class, a “Focus Summary” report is available for students with informative guidance and tips on what they can do to stay better focused during class.

"During my beta test, I found the focus mode to be a great way to remind students that staying engaged in class is important to their learning. Phones can be a distraction, but with this software my students were better able to pay attention to class activities and instruction and less to the distractions coming from their phones," said Matt Evans, Ph.D., Physics + Astronomy Professor at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. 

“Instructors teach to cultivate learning and spark curiosity in students. With the new Focus setting, we wanted to create an environment that allowed students to self-reflect with insights about how and when they get distracted during class. Our research shows that students like using the focused sessions, and we know it is making a difference for them by their better grades,” said Steven Ray, Vice President, Institutional, Macmillan Learning.

iClicker was developed by a team of physicists/educational researchers out of the University of Illinois and is currently used at more than 1,200 Institutions by more than 5,000 Instructors and more than 10M students.

About Macmillan Learning

Macmillan Learning is a privately-held, family-owned company that improves lives through learning. By linking research to learning practice, we develop pioneering products and learning materials for students that are highly effective and drive improved outcomes. To learn more, please visit macmillanlearning.com or see us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or join our Macmillan Community.


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