Personal response system (PRS), Classroom Performance System (CPS), and Audience Response System (ARS) refer to technology tools that provide a way for students to interact with the instructor during instruction. Through small remote devices ("clickers") or through laptops, tablet devices and/or smart phones accesssing online tools, instructors can poll their students, ensure key points are understood, give low-stakes quizzes to assess student learning, and receive immediate classroom feedback on teaching.
Clicker technology makes the use of these strategies feasible and manageable, even for large classes. For example, the instructor will plan for each lecture several concept questions that focus more on the analysis and evaluation of information than simple recall, rote memorization, or calculation. Students are asked to share and discuss their responses with partners. Some faculty ask students to respond twice to difficult questions, once right after they read the question and then again after they talk to their partners. The faculty member then reviews and explains varying student responses, helping them clear up their misconceptions.
Research in physics (Crouch & Mazur, 2001) shows that students’ cognitive gains from peer instruction are significant: students’scores on tests measuring conceptual understanding improved dramatically; their performance on traditional quantitative problems improved as well.
Admittedly, faculty hold different views on student class attendance. Some firmly believe that being in class and listening to a lecture is an integral part of learning, making class attendance a must; others think it is not essential for learning and it can be left to the students to decide. Similarly, student opinions about mandatory class attendance vary. Some U-M students surveyed in 2006 and 2007 responded negatively when clickers were used only to check class attendance (Zhu, Bierwert, & Bayer).
There are many other creative ways clickers are being used in classrooms. Draper, Cargill, and Cutts (2002) list three: Students can use them to give anonymous feedback on their peers’ class presentations by responding to a brief post-presentation survey. Faculty can create a sense of community and group awareness by clustering people’s hobbies, habits, and preferences through student responses to anonymous surveys. Kam & Sommer (2006) note the use of clickers for campaign simulation and polling research, as well as the technology’s ability to monitor and facilitate individual and group games. In summary, the only limitation on innovative applications of clickers is the creativity of the instructor.
i>clicker is the classroom clicker system supported by LSA, College of Engineering, Public Policy, Kinesiology, Music, Information, Public Health, and the Library. The LSA Technology Services group and CAEN (Engineering) provide training on using the system.
For detailed information about support, click on the links above.
Tips for Using Personal Response Systems (PRS)
- Examine your own teaching style and establish clear goals for using a PRS in the class.
- Know how the PRS works before bringing it into the classroom. If you are not well prepared technologically or pedagogically for using a PRS, it is recommended that you postpone using it until you are ready.
- Explain to students why a PRS is being used in the course and clarify how the PRS can help students achieve the learning objective(s). Be sure to use the PRS regularly and consistently.
- Clearly articulate your expectations of students and also establish rules and student responsibilities (e.g., it is the students' responsibility to bring clickers or other device to lecture every time).
- Develop a pool of thoughtful and effective questions for each lecture. Questions that ask for conceptual thinking in technical courses or critical thinking in any class are particularly effective.
- Use a PRS in conjunction with teaching strategies such as "Peer Instruction" and "Think-Pair-Share" to improve students' conceptual understanding of the content, as well as their critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.
- When using a PRS for the first time, consider the first couple of class sessions experimental so that both faculty and students will have a chance to practice. It is not a good idea to give students tests using a PRS on the first day of class because some of the students may not have purchased their devices yet.
- Be sure not to allocate too many points to a single test that is given to students during lecture using a PRS, since it may create anxiety and also increase the temptation to cheat.
- If PRS technology is used to track attendance, be sure to use the system for other purposes as well, such as assessing student understanding, generating ideas for class discussion, or engaging students in thinking critically about course content.
- When using a PRS to diagnose students' understanding, be sure to comment on or explain students' responses, give students another question on the same topic if needed, or adjust lecture pace and sequence if necessary to clarify confusion or misconceptions.
|i>clicker||LectureTools||Poll Everywhere||Socrative||Google Forms||Piazza|
|Plans||Free, students buy i>clicker||Fee for service, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, embedded in CTools||Free for 40 votes/poll||Free, limited to 50 participants at once||Free||Free, embedded in CTools|
|Supported by U-M||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Question types||Multiple-choice||Multiple-choice, ordered response, free response, image||Multiple-choice||Multiple-choice||Multiple-choice, free response||Multiple-choice, free response|
|Supported devices||i>clicker||Internet-enabled devices & text messages||Internet- enabled devices & text messages||Internet- enabled devices||Internet-enabled devices||Internet-enabled devices|
Brenda Gunderson, from Statistics, LSA, discusses her use of clickers in her large statistics course.
Josepha Kurdziel, from Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, LSA, demonstrated and discussed her use of personal response systems to involve students in active learning and critical thinking in large lectures
Tim McKay, from Physics, LSA, discusses why he uses clickers and the benefits he sees in the classroom.