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About Clickers

A Student Response System (SRS) is a tool used to promote active learning in the classroom. Students respond to questions posed by the instructor using a small hand-held keypad that looks like a TV remote control.


What are Clickers?

Clickers, also known as "Student Response Systems (SRS)" or "Personal Response Systems (PRS)," are hand-held devices that help teachers interact with students during lectures. Through interactive question-and-answer sessions, instructors can engage students in course material by providing instant visual feedback to the class. This allows the instructor to collect individual responses from hundreds of students at once and gauge student comprehension.

How do Clickers work?

STEP 1: The instructor asks a question.

The question is usually projected on a large screen in class.  

STEP 2: Students click their answers.

The classroom computer registers all student responses. 

STEP 3: The instructor displays and discusses the results.  

The instructor can display a graph that shows how the class responded as a whole and discuss students' group or individual responses.

Why use Clickers?


Instructors at Ohio University use clickers to:

Create an interactive, dynamic in-class experience: Large classes can inhibit student-teacher interaction. Students may shy away from answering an instructor’s question, fearing the embarrassment of answering incorrectly. Even in smaller classes, which can be highly interactive, this "intimidation factor" can limit student-teacher interaction for a select few. The Student Response System can compensate for these challenges by offering all students--not just a vocal minority--the opportunity to answer the instructor’s questions.

An interactive classroom, particularly one where students can participate anonymously, affords students a higher level of engagement that is otherwise difficult to achieve within a large class. Instructors can use student responses to generate dialogue, respond to misconceptions, address ambiguities, open new avenues of discussion, and otherwise engage the class. Clickers merely lay the groundwork for this interactivity. Instructor questions must be challenging, thought provoking, and stimulating.

Assess student understanding: Instructors can use clickers to measure student preparation, understanding, and satisfaction. When an instructor asks a question in a clickers class, student responses register in real-time and give the instructor immediate, feedback. This allows instructors to address to focus on points that need explanation.

Students also benefit from immediate feedback about their current levels of understanding. Students see how well they understand the material and what they need to review more. Students also see how they are measuring up to the rest of the class instead of having to wait until after a midterm exam. Some instructors administer pre- and post- tests to help students in this preparation.

Improve student attention and preparation: Students pay closer attention when instructors ask quiz and survey questions during the period. Clickers encourage students to use the textbook and to prepare for class daily. Also, real-time questions and answers engage students with the lecture material. When interest is stimulated, students retain more. When students engage in active learning, they learn more. Interactive questions and answers also draw students into the lecture content, motivate discussion, and encourage students to ask questions.

Encourage collaboration and teamwork: Well planned clicker exercises can create opportunities for efficacious group assignments and collaboration. Some instructors require students to discuss and build consensus or create quiz questions that foster healthy competition encourage collaboration and teamwork. A student working alone on a problem may not know where to begin, may be lost, or may simply give up. However, working on a team, each student shares and contributes knowledge, and the group collectively attempts to formulate an answer.

What can I do with Clickers?


  • The Student Response System (SRS), or "clickers," allows instructors to guage how well students understand course concepts. Instructors may also use clickers to conduct in-class surveys. In one graduate course, the instructor uses clickers for a needs assessment inventory. The results quickly alert her to unprepared students and, more importantly, she notes, "the SRS provides a wake-up call to these students."
  • One instructor states that he is "most excited about the pretest/posttest applications":

    "The pretest can help students assess their entry knowledge of course topics and motivate them to resolve any deficiencies it identifies. It also helps the instructor adjust where to place emphasis or additional examples. The posttest can reinforce that students effectively mastered course content or alert the instructor that additional work may be required."

  • During discussions of either controversial social topics or difficult concepts, students may be especially reluctant to openly voice individual opinions. Clickers can allow students to voice opinions publicly while remaining anonymous.
  • One instructor uses clickers to compose questions on-the-fly at any point during the lecture. In this way, he can poll the class and see immediate results, which can be tabulated and graphed to show the number or percentage of students who selected each choice.
  • TurningPoint software can capture "demographic" information about students and will allow instructors to show responses from different sub-groups. A political science professor may use a clickers to pose a multiple-choice question about a controversial topic. After students enter a choice on their keypads, the instructor can categorize class responses by political affiliation. By highlighting and discussing these differences in opinion, each student learns from the knowledge and experience of others.

What do students say about Clickers?


Focus Groups

Questions: We asked students to report their experiences using clickers. We asked them if they thought clickers were an effective way to learn, whether they would take future classes requiring clickers, and whether they would change anything about the clickers.

Responses: Students overwhelmingly reported positive educational benefits: clickers engaged the class and helped students focus during lectures, encouraged attendance and participation, aided retention, and helped exam preparation. Some disagreed about the best kinds of clicker questions and others expressed reservations about the cost of clickers, but no student disliked clickers and all indicated they would be excited about using them again.

Students also found incentive to attend class because the class was more engaging, reporting that clicker sessions heightened their attention ("definitely forces you to pay attention"), provided a "break" in the lectures ("it's good to get a little break from the lecture. It just kind of gets boring you know people space out. So it's like 'ok, get your clickers out.... Answer a question' -- and everyone does it... It's kind of interactive... It's good.") and solicited their participation ("I think it helps in a class this size: every single person can participate if they have a clicker. Professor asks a question and, instead of one person answering it, everybody gets to have a part in the class... helps participation.")

All students said clicker questions provided them an opportunity to assess their comprehension of the material and prepare for tests: "Everyone in the class has the chance, the opportunity to answer [the clicker question], see the results, and go over it." One student saw value in being immediately quizzed on course concepts: "pounding it into your head right when you're learning it helps." The consensus was that being quizzed in class on course topics helped retention: "Anyone with the notes can grasp a concept 12 hours later when you're at a class but it kind of forces you to go back into your notes and understand it right when you learn it and I thought that helped me at least remember it better right off the start than to try to go back and remember stuff."

Here's what else students had to say about clickers:

Clickers improved class participation.

"I think it helps in a class like this size. Every single person can participate if they have a clicker."

"When the professor asks a question ... instead of one person answering it, everybody gets to have a part in the class"

"It helps participation."

"I think it makes you more involved in the class. And I definitely understand the concepts more than in just explaining them. Because I might miss it because I'm not paying attention. And then like I can grasp onto it better by answering the question."

"It helps you get more involved. Helps you understand concepts better. And it's just different that I'd never done anything like that in a class before.   It's kind of interesting."

Clickers helped students pay attention in class.

"It definitely forces you to pay attention too. Cause you don't know what he's going to ask and if you zone out for a minute, you miss it."

"Helps keep you focus...everyone in the class has the chance, the opportunity to answer it, see the results, go over it... that helps you out a lot, keeps you focused."

"It's good to get a little break from the lecture. It just kind of gets boring you know people space out. So it's like 'ok, get your clickers out.... Answer a question." And everyone does it. It's kind of interactive. It's good."

Clickers helped students retain what they learned.

"It kind of forces you to go back to your notes and understand it right when you learn it and I thought that helped me at least remember it better right off from the start."

Clickers helped students to better evaluate their own learning.

"It helps me figure out what I need to study."

"Like when the prof asks a clicker question in class and you don't know what the heck he's even talking about, it helps you figure out what you need to do, so you can do better on the test, instead of like not finding out until the day of the exam that you don't get it."

"If you come to class and you try to answer all the clicker questions, if you know it, you're gonna get a perfect score on the test."

"To me it helps to know what you need to know."

Clickers improved class attendance.

"I actually came to class one time when I wasn't going to because of the clickers."

"It makes you come to class more."

Clickers improved student learning.

"It's definitely worth it. Helps you learn more."

"You have to understand a broader concept. It's not just you know asking a knowledge question like the name of a person or something. You have to understand a concept."

"I don't know if a whole lot of people are used to more like conceptual questions you know like having a broader view or general like knowledge of something rather than like you know one question that's just a knowledge answer it's like applying it to something it gets ready for the test."

Video - Using Clickers @ OU

Clickers in the Classroom
Listen to what instructors say about using clickers in the classroom to teach at Ohio University. In these videotaped interviews instructors discuss why they use clickers and how it benefits both students and faculty.


Participants include:

  • Steve Hays, Associate Professor, Department of Classics & World Religions
  • Glen Jackson, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
  • Mark Lucas, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy
  • Molly Morris, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
  • Alycia Stigall, Assistant Professor, Department of Geological Sciences
  • Scott Titsworth, Associate Professor, School of Communication Studies