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This paper reports a study of clicker use within an undergraduate course in Operating Systems. It is based on a controlled, randomized experiment with a crossover design that measures learning outcomes by means of test questions at different levels of cognitive difficulty. The study aims to investigate whether clicker use primarily promotes superficial learning, whereby students reapply uncritically a previously seen solution in a new situation, or a more genuine learning whereby they analyze new situations and solve new problems. The results suggest that students attending clicker-based lectures obtain better exam scores than students attending corresponding traditional lectures in the same course. Moreover, the superior scores achieved by the students attending the clicker-based lectures were most pronounced for exam questions that required knowledge of the subject matter. The article concludes that clicker-supported lectures may be tried out helpfully in engineering education to promote learning. Advice is given as to how one may proceed.
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