Using Clickers in the Classroom
Classroom performance systems or clickers, as they’re commonly known, are designed to support communication and interaction. When implemented successfully, clickers can help engage students, encourage interaction, and contribute to student learning.
Options for Using Clickers at IUPUI:
Using Clickers in the Classroom
- Make lectures more interactive.
- More actively engage students.
- Maintain students’ attention longer.
- Facilitate collaboration among students.
- Increase participation of all students, not just a vocal minority, allowing for expression of their thoughts and opinions.
- Provide opportunity for mental processing. When questions are posed directly for students to answer, students do more mental processing than when questions are asked rhetorically or answered by only a handful of other students.
Ideas to Incorporate Clickers
- Background knowledge probes. At the beginning of class or as a topic is introduced, clickers can be used to survey students’ knowledge, opinions, or attitudes towards a topic.
- Formative assessment. Clickers can be used to informally check on students’ learning. For example, after content has been presented through lecture or reading assignments, students could be asked application questions or to choose the correct answer to a problem. This feedback can be useful not only to students but also to instructors as it provides information that can be used to fine tune instruction.
- Discussion launching. Clickers can be used to launch small group discussions. Students can discuss questions in a group, and then respond as a group to questions.
- Peer assessment. Students can use clickers to give feedback to other students about presentations or other public student work.
- Demonstrations/experiments. Clickers can be used to demonstrate a variety of scientific phenomena or to have students predict results of experimental manipulations.
- Attendance. Clickers can provide a record of student attendance.
- Study guides or practice tests. Clickers can be used to review material or provide practice questions for students to help prepare them for tests.
- Quizzes or tests. It’s possible to record students responses, so clickers can be used for graded quizzes and tests.
Possible Concerns with Using Clickers
- Need to redesign instruction. The use of clickers requires instructors to rethink their instruction to leverage the potential advantages of using clickers. They may start with just minor changes, but major pedagogical changes also may be implemented.
- Less control of class. Student responses are not always predictable and instructors need to be prepared when students’ interests or learning needs are different than what the instructor anticipated. This may mean changing the lesson plan during class.
- Time requirements. Using clickers, especially at first, takes additional class time.
- Technology requirements. Instructors need to learn how to use the technology, be prepared to set it up in class, and know how to deal with technical difficulties that arise.
- Expense. Classroom performance systems vary in cost, and determining who will pay for them may be an issue.
Student Reactions to Clickers
- Students most often enjoy using clickers once they become used to them.
- Students generally think that using clickers contributes to their understanding. They appreciate the feedback they get about their own understanding of material.
- Students appreciate the anonymity provided by the use of clickers.
- If students are accustomed to passive lectures they initially may be uncomfortable with the more active format required by the use of clickers.
- Students may perceive even formative assessment with clickers as tests, so may have concerns about that.
- Students respond to clickers most positively when they are used to engage students interactively, not just for quick feedback or attendance taking.
- Pedagogy first, technology second. Use clickers to help students reach instructional goals for your course; don’t let technology become the main focus.
References and Resources
Beatty, I. (2004). Transforming student learning with classroom communication systems (Research Bulletin volume 2004, issue 3). Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE, Center for Applied Research. Retrieved from:http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/transforming-student-learning-classroom-communication-systems.
Bruff, D. (2009). Teaching with classroom response systems: Creating active learning environments. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Caldwell, J. E. (2007). Clickers in the large classroom: Current research and best-practice tips. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 6(1), 9-20.
Dangel, H. L., & Wang, C. X. (2008). Student response systems in higher education: Moving beyond linear teaching and surface learning. Journal of Educational Technology Development and Exchange, 1(1), 93-104.
Draper, S. W., & Brown, M. I. (2004). Increasing interactivity in lectures using an electronic voting system.Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 20(2), 81-94. Retrieved fromhttp://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/~steve/ilig/papers/draperbrown.pdf
Duncan, D. (2005). Clickers in the classroom: How to enhance science teaching using classroom response systems. San Francisco: Pearson Education.
Judson, E. & Sawada, D. (2002). Learning from past and present: Electronic response systems in college lecture halls. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 21(2), 167-181.
Penuel, W. R., Roschelle, J., Crawford, V., Shechtman, N. (2004). CATAALYST workshop report: Advancing research on the transformative potential of interactive pedagogies and classroom networks. Retrieved from http://ctl.sri.com/publications/downloads/CATAALYST_Workshop_Report.pdf
Authored by Terri Tarr (October, 2007)
Revised by Jennifer Beasley (October, 2012)
Revised by Anusha S. Rao (November, 2015)
Revised by Kael Kanczuzewski (August, 2017)