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Clickers (Personal Response Systems)

What if you could:

clicker unit in student hands

Clickers (personal response systems) allow students to select anonymously an answer to multiple-choice, true/false, yes/no, numeric, and alphanumeric questions displayed by the lecturer. Students choose their answers on transmitter units that send a signal to a receiver attached to the lecturer’s laptop, and the results can be displayed for the whole class to see.

Clickers being used in group workThis technology allows instructors to:

At the University of Oregon we have adopted the iClicker technology for use across campus. By adopting iClickers it has allowed the university to consolidate the purchase of student units through the DuckStore in a similar procedure as buying textbooks. Additionally, instructor kits can be checked out from the Center for Media and Educational Technologies (CMET) on a term-by-term basis. For more information about how this process works, and to find additional resources, see: Using i>clicker at UO -- notes for instructors (NOTE: The below links will open in a new browser tab or window)

Selected Resources (NOTE: The below links will open in a new browser tab or window)

Clickers in the Classroom: How to Enhance Science Teaching Using Classroom Response Systems Douglas Duncan, University of Colorado
Forward, Chapters 1 &2, (2005), Pearson Education, Inc (Note: Out of Print from publisher, but available at other online bookseller sites.)

You're a good teacher. You really care about whether your students learn. So as you lecture you watch their faces for clues and ask yourself, “Do they get it? Are they enthusiastic about what I'm saying?” You stop and ask them, “Does anybody have any questions?” Students nervously look at each other. No one raises a hand. Good, you think to yourself, no one had a question— they must be following my presentation and understanding the subject.

If you're an experienced teacher, you know you shouldn't make that assumption. Many students will not call attention to what they don’t know, especially in a large class. Research shows that instructors usually overestimate how much students learn. But now, there’s a better way! Technology has advanced to the point where classroom response systems—or “clickers”— allow a teacher to sample the thinking of all students, at any time, without students having to risk embarrassing themselves in front of their peers. (p. 1)

Clickers in the Classroom: An Active Learning Approach
Margie Martyn, Baldwin-Wallace College
EDUCAUSE Quarterly, Volume 30, Number 2, (2007), pp. 71-74

Current research describes the benefits of active learning approaches. Clickers, or student response systems, are a technology used to promote active learning. Most research on the benefits of using clickers in the classroom has shown that students become engaged and enjoy using them. However, research on learning outcomes has only compared the use of clickers to traditional lecture methods. Although learning outcomes are higher when using clickers, the question is whether the clickers or the active learning pedagogies are the cause. For this reason, I conducted a study that compared learning outcomes resulting from the use of clickers versus another active learning method—class discussion.


Using a Personal Response System in Economics Teaching
Caroline Elliot, Lancaster University
International Review of Economics Education, Volume 1, Issue 1 (2003), pp. 80-86

This paper offers a brief introduction to a Personal Response System that can be used in group-teaching scenarios, reporting the results of a trial using the technology in a second-year undergraduate Microeconomics Principles course. Advantages and disadvantages of the technology are discussed, and the possibilities for using this technology more widely are explored.

(From Abstract: