SA leaders issue survey assessing clicker costs, prevalence

Media Credit: Donna Armstrong | Contributing Photo Editor

Nicole Cennamo, the SA’s vice president for academic affairs, and Sen. Matt Ludovico, U-at-Large, helped compile and release the survey.

Student Association leaders are taking the first steps to standardize the cost of clickers.

SA leaders released a survey Thursday asking students 11 questions about where they buy clickers and how much the tools cost. SA leaders said they will use the results of the survey to begin brainstorming ways the University can reduce clicker prices or create a central, University-wide program where students can buy the product.

“You know what textbooks you’re going to be using for the class, but when it comes to clickers, you really don’t know that until class starts,” Nicole Cennamo, the SA’s vice president for academic affairs, said. “So you could walk in on the first day of school and not be expecting to spend $60 on clickers, but that could be your reality.”

Cennamo said students typically have to buy a different clicker service, which could include Top Hat or iClicker, depending on what a professor prefers. But she said the price of the devices add up over students’ four years if they are purchasing different products each semester.

She said SA leaders will compile a report by next semester detailing which clicker programs students and professors typically use and how much is spent on clickers to advocate for a single-clicker system that students can use all four years. The survey was sent through SA email blasts, the SA’s Facebook page and class Facebook groups, Cennamo said.

“We just hope to get a better sense of the size and scope of the clicker issue at GW,” she said. “We really want to see if students are struggling with clicker affordability and if so, how much they are and what clicker systems are in use.”

She added that a survey will also be sent to faculty within the next two weeks to determine which systems professors prefer. The survey will be sent through a faculty listserv and email blasts, she said.

Sen. Matt Ludovico, U-at-Large, who helped compile the survey, said the faculty survey could help SA leaders understand if professors do not mandate that students buy clickers because they are aware of the price. He added that SA leaders also plan to educate professors on free programs, like Kahoot!, that could be used in place of buying clickers, in addition to proposing ways to reduce costs associated with the product.

“The University doesn’t offer a central one that every professor can use,” Ludovico said. “My freshman year, one professor preferred an iClicker and then another preferred Top Hat and that’s already an issue because for each it’s maybe $30. That adds up to $60 – and that’s just for one semester.”

Sen. Amy Martin, ESIA-U, who also helped to create the survey, said the information collected will provide baseline ideas for SA leaders to advocate for cheaper programs. She said she originally had the idea to research clicker costs after a professor for her comparative politics class sent a survey to the class asking whether the cost of clickers is expensive for students to purchase.

Prior to the survey’s release, she said SA leaders brainstormed ways to reduce the cost of clicker programs, like creating a program similar to Top Textbooks, an initiative that launched last academic year for students to share popular textbooks.

“Once we’ve established this actually is a problem for students or students and teachers alike, we’ll start brainstorming the different ways we can address it,” she said. “But we’re hoping that the response we get from students will help us.”

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