“Backchannel” tool shifts class participation models

Perry Samson, U-M atmospheric science professor, has developed a backchannel tool to encourage his students to ask questions during class. He says this new participation model has increased the overall level of inquiry in his classes and has allowed underrepresented student’s voices to be heard.

The tool allows students to submit questions anonymously during class. Only the teaching assistant who answers the questions and Samson have access to the student’s names. Ninety-seven percent of students who participated in the backchannel said they would like to use it in all large lecture classes. Women and first generation students used the tool at equal to or higher rates than the rest of the students.

This tool is part of the Sloan Equity and Inclusion in STEM Introductory Courses project.

Author: Mona Beydoun, ITS Communications

Mona is an intern at U-M ITS. Contact her at monabey@umich.edu or on LinkedIn.