In my flipped organic chemistry class, active learning is encouraged by asking questions and posing problems for students to solve (see my post “Enough with the Lecturing“.) To foster engagement, students record their answers using student response devices, “clickers”. As an aside, I, unfortunately, have found that a grade needs to be assigned to their work for them to take it seriously. Most of the time, the questions require the students to work out the solutions. They are allowed to use anything at their disposal to arrive at a solution including notes, textbook, collaboration with other students, etc. In these cases, students are given amounts of time to work out the answers commensurate with the difficulty of the problem. However, on occasion, we have what is called a “lightning round” in which objective questions which should not require any in depth discussion or complicated reasoning to answer are asked. These questions must be answered individually with no aids as if they were quiz questions. During the lightning round, the students are typically allotted 30 seconds to one minute to log their responses depending on how long it should take an average student to read the question and possible answers. To ensure that I do not close the polling too quickly, or leave it open too long, I add countdown timers to each question slide. One of the timers I like is a little hour glass “animation” that empties just like an old fashioned egg timer. When the “sand” has all gone from the top to the bottom, I close the polling. The images below show the timer at the start, a midpoint, and at the end.
These timers are part of a package containting a variety of different styles designed by David Foord. All are free for use in educational or non-commercial applications. If you have a use for countdown timers that work in Power Point, you can download them from A6 Training.