Current Research & Classroom Uses

Current Research
The trend in using Student Response Devices in higher education seems have more research than that of K-12 education, but the usage of these amazing clickers is rapidly growing in K-12 schools. One aspect of using the devices in a K-12 setting is for formative assessment. Teachers will use the remotes to assess what students know as they go through a lesson to see if they are understanding it properly, via response questions that the students will answer. The results are instant and the teacher can either move on or re-address a concept if the results show that students are not understanding it. The same goes for test preparation - student answers can instantly be viewed on a screen and the teacher can see what needs to be re-taught and what was taught well (Davis, White, 2003).
Research-based best practices for use of student response systems:

Overall, students report thier experience with clickers to be positive.

According to a study conducted in 2007, 56.4% of (college) students responding had a favorable attitude towards the utility

of clickers in their respective courses (compared to 22.9% that were neutral and 20.7% that had unfavorable attitudes) and 55.3% of students had a favorable attitude towards the enjoyment of clickers (compared to 24.5% that were neutral and 20.2% that had unfavorable attitudes).  

Student attitude seems to correlate with the comfort level of the teacher using the devices and the ways in which they are used by the teacher.  When teachers encourage peer instruction and peer participation, student engagement increases.  Students must be part of the discussion, but they must also be asking each other the questions used in tandem with the clicker technology. Students have a much more positive attitude towards the utility of clickers if teachers encourage discussion and are able to get a large fraction of students discussing. Likewise, student attitude is also improved when students are actively participating in discussions with their peers, as opposed to being passive or working independently. (C., Finkelstein, N. D., Perkins, K., Pollock, S. J., Turpen, C., & Dubson, M. 2007)

Two suggestions that will improve your use of student response systems in the classroom:

1) Encourage kids to talk with their classmates during clicker questions and create environments that get students interested and talking.

2) Ask open-ended questions appropriate for most students’ level of knowledge.

What is does current research say about students' learning and engagement with clickers?  Here is a video specifically about the research:

Student Response Systems have varying costs:  Our research finds them to be in the $20-$40 range per clicker.  For an item that can be used in multiple classes and subjects, it does not seem to be a prohibitive cost.  Textbooks can range from $20-$100 per book and often have to be replaced as information becomes outdated. 


Classroom Uses

Using a clicker or audience response system can significantly change the way you and your students interact by enabling you to assess your students' knowledge, keep their attention, provide immediate feedback, and encourage all students to participate. An audience response system can also be used in conference settings to poll the audience on any content you wish.

Examples of places using clickers:

Most universities are starting to use clickers. For example, UNC has students buy clickers at the campus bookstore. After you’ve bought the clicker, you pay a per-semester course registration clicker fee. (Clickers are registered to your name so when you vote an answer, it’s linked to your name.)

Some school boards are also starting to use clickers. For example, Colorado’s Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) launched a one-year pilot in August 2004.

Derek Bruff writes about and blogs about clickers. He blogged that good clicker pedagogy at the college level probably translated well to high school settings, if not all K to 12 settings 

Five ways to engage students using clickers in the classroom:

1. Peer marking.

Students do an activity or performance. Clickers provide an easy way to collect peer assessment marks from the class (instead of having students write down their marks and then you going through and copying the marks onto a class list.)

2. Assessment guiding teacher instruction.

Want to see how well your students understand the lesson? Ask a multiple choice question and you can instantly see how well your students are dong. This allows you to focus on the most popular incorrect answers.

3. Assessment as student feedback.

Give students a multiple choice practice quiz. Hand out questions on paper and then set up the clickers so students can go through the test at their own pace. You can also set up some clickers to provide immediate feedback on whether they got the question right or wrong.

4. Opinion polls.

Voting for something in your class (i.e. class representative)? Clickers can be set up to record the student’s name with their vote, or to keep it anonymous. Show the results in a bar graph.

5. Game show style lessons.

It’s just like a TV game show when the audience members vote in a response.

(Kuroneko, 2010)


Best Practices for Implementing Clickers in the Classroom:

  1. Keep slides short to optimize legibility.
  2. Keep the number of answer options to five.
  3. Do not make the questions overly complex.
  4. Keep voting straightforward—systems allow complex branching, but keep it simple.
  5. Allow sufficient time for students to answer questions. Some general guidelines:
    1. Classes of fewer than 30 students: 15–20 seconds per question
    2. Classes of 30 to 100 students: 30 seconds per question
    3. Classes of more than 100 students: 1 minute per question
  • Allow time for discussion between questions.
  • Encourage active discussion with the audience.
  • Do not ask too many questions; use them for the key points.
  • Position the questions at periodic intervals throughout the presentation.
  • Include an "answer now" prompt to differentiate between lecture slides and interactive polling slides.
  • Use a "correct answer" indicator to visually identify the appropriate answer.
  • Include a "response grid" so that students know their responses have registered.
  •  Increase responsiveness by using a "countdown timer" that will close polling after a set amount of time.
  • Test the system in the proposed location to identify technical issues (lighting, signal interference, etc.)
  • On the actual day of the session, allow time to set out clickers and start system.
  • Rehearse actual presentation to make sure it will run smoothly.
  • Provide clear instructions on how to use the clickers to the audience.
  • Do not overuse the system or it will lose its "engagement" potential
  • * According to Maggie Martyn (2007)

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