Classroom Response Systems ("Clickers")

Decorative: Three mobile devices showing a polling question, a selection of polling responses, and a bar chart of responses


"Classroom Response Systems ('Clickers')" (webpage) introduces formal classroom response systems (CRSs) as well as "strategies for using clickers in your teaching."

Topics of relevance for Lakehead include the following:

  • What Is a CRS?
  • Teaching with a CRS
  • Why Use a CRS?
  • Challenges in Using a CRS

NOTE: Most of the advantages and uses of a formal and costly CRS can be gained from free or free-to-student services such as the following:

Decorative: A banner showing the logs for Socrative, Mentimeter, Kahoot!, Meetoo, Poll Everywhere


A. What Is a CRS?

"A classroom response system (sometimes called a personal response system, student response system, or audience response system) is a set of hardware and software that facilitates teaching activities such as the following."

  • "A teacher poses a multiple-choice question to his or her students via an overhead or computer projector."
  • "Each student submits an answer to the question using a handheld transmitter (a “clicker”) that beams a radio-frequency signal to a receiver attached to the teacher’s computer."
  • "Software on the teacher’s computer collects the students’ answers and produces a bar chart showing how many students chose each of the answer choices."
  • "The teacher makes “on the fly” instructional choices in response to the bar chart by, for example, leading students in a discussion of the merits of each answer choice or asking students to discuss the question in small groups."

B.  Teaching with a CRS (Each point is elaborated more fully in the post.)

1. Types of Questions

  • Recall Questions
  • Conceptual Understanding Questions
  • Application Questions
  • Critical Thinking Questions
  • Student Perspective Questions
  • Confidence Level Questions
  • Monitoring Questions
  • Classroom Experiments

2. Types of Activities

  • Attendance
  • Summative Assessment
  • Formative Assessment
  • Homework Collection
  • Discussion Warm-Up
  • Contingent Teaching
  • Peer Instruction
  • Repeated Questions
  • Question-Driven Instruction
  • “Choose Your Own Adventure” Classes

C. Why Use a CRS? (Each point is elaborated more fully in the post.)

"A teacher can use a CRS to…"

  • "Maintain students’ attention during a lecture."
  • "Promote active student engagement during a lecture." 
  • "Promote discussion and collaboration among students during class."
  • "Encourage participation from each and every student in a class." 
  • "Create a safe space for shy and unsure students to participate in class."
  • "Check for student understanding during class."
  • "Teach in a way that adapts to the immediate learning needs of his or her students." 
  • "Take attendance and to rapidly grade in-class quizzes."
  • "Add a little drama to class."

D. Challenges in using a CRS (Each point is elaborated more fully in the post.)

  • "[T]echnical problems can arise."
  • "Getting started with a CRS takes some time."  
  • "Using a CRS in class takes up class time." 
  • "[K]nowing that students have misconceptions does not necessarily reveal what those misconceptions are."
  • "[T]he teacher may have to change his or her lesson plan 'on the fly.'"
  • "[L]eading class-wide discussions can be challenging for instructors used to just lecturing."
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