AHEAD OF THE CLASS

Student Response Systems


The use of student response systems provide teachers with the technology needed to actively engage students, easily assess student achievement, and control the pace of prepared lessons.  Immediate feedback is provided as the assessment is happening, increasing classroom participation and attentiveness.  Remotes are used to answer prepared multiple choice questions on the board, poll the students on their comfort with a concept, or even to take a quiz/test allowing a teacher to quickly assess the learning taking place.  There is also an added bonus of automatic grading for teachers using the student response system.  Teachers using clicker technology also have a huge advantage over other teachers using traditional grading practices because they have the opportunity to immediately see if students are on the right track, collect data more efficiently, and give immediate feedback to the entire class at the moment when it is the most fresh in students’ minds.  It is believed that another powerful advantage of the clickers is that it encourages students to take more risks answering questions through anonymous responses as well as elicits diverse opinions when there isn't a correct answer.  Most response systems available on the market provide various types of assessment activities including question formats using recall, conceptual understanding, critical thinking, and student perspectives.  Confidence level questions that ask students to rate their confidence in their answers and monitoring questions such as how long it took students to complete an assignment provide instructors with useful information about the difficulty of the assignment. Thus, teaching with a student response system can take a number of directions matching activities to course content, time constraints, learning objectives, and various teaching styles.

.The Instructional Technology department in Volusia county not only encourages the use of student response systems but, offers support and training each year to assist and support classroom teachers with their set up and instructional needs. Over the past four years the district has purchased eInstruction, DualBoard, interactive whiteboards, Mobi mobile interactive whiteboards, CPS Pulse student response systems, and ExamView Assessment Suite & Learning Series from InLine.  Clickers are currently being used by many schools to gather information about student learning needs. Some brands of clickers allow students to register their confidence level (high, medium, or low) along with their answer, providing more detailed feedback to the teacher for differentiated instruction or before moving on with further content.  Research indicates that student response can result in 15 point gains in student achievement. Citrus County tested the student response system during a special benchmark assessment given to an 8th grade science course during the first week of classes.  Half of students were taught and evaluated using the TurningPoint system with immediate review questions following instruction to ensure students’ subject mastery. The other group was taught using traditional methods. When reevaluated on the same material presented in the benchmark assessment, the response technology students saw an increase in student comprehension of approximately 40%, while students taught using traditional methods saw a 10% increase in comprehension. The data reveals that students using clickers benefit from the instant thorough review offered using a response system and retained information longer (Turning Technology, 2010).

In another study conducted by Margie Martyn, the effects of clickers were isolated by comparing two classes that used clickers with two classes that used class discussion. The study investigated whether clickers provided additional benefits resulting in higher learning outcomes. Learning outcomes were measured by taking the score on the comprehensive final exam at the end of the semester. In addition, a pretest was given to determine if any statistically significant differences existed between the groups at the beginning of the study. The study also compared student perceptions about their learning after using one of the two active learning techniques: clickers or class discussion. All four classes were taught in the same semester with the same instructor, textbooks, learning materials, and assessments.  Although Martyn reports that no statistically significant differences occurred, the mean scores were consistently higher for students who had used clickers.  Other teachers using clickers in their classrooms report significant changes in student learning.  “The use of keypads dramatically changes the typical one-way interaction between teacher and student in a short time and is a powerful learning tool for the instructor. It has also achieved our goal of greatly increasing the participation of students in the lecture class” (Burnstein & Lederman, 2001, 10).  “One of the best features of an SRS [student response system] is that it allows students to provide input without fear of public humiliation and without having to worry about more vocal students dominating the discussion” (Educause Quarterly, 2010).  “They [clickers] allowed the instructor to assess student knowledge quickly and to monitor student learning. Clickers have the potential to help both students and teachers identify students’ misconceptions and deal with them at the time they are recognized” (Hatch, Jensen, and Moore, 2005). 

 References

Burnstein, R. & Lederman, L. (2001). Using wireless keypads in lecture classes. The
     Physics Teacher
, 39, 8-11.

Center for Teaching. (2010). Classroom Response Systems (“Clickers”).

            Retrieved from http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/teaching-guides/technology/clickers

Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K (2000) Research methods in education. 5th   
     Edition. Routledge Farmer, London and New York.
(Using Technology in Assessment, CIT-0503-GR1, Syllabus, Assessment of Learning, Nova Southeastern University, 2011)