Engaging students using clickers

Darla and her daughter.

Darla and her daughter.

— Darla Ausel

Looking for ways to engage your students, especially in large lecture
classes? Consider using a student response system (“clickers”). The use of clickers in the classroom promotes active student engagement, encourages individual student participation, fosters discussion and collaboration among students, and helps assess understanding. A few suggested uses:

  • Real time assessment. Use clickers to gauge students’ understanding of materials during class. If students are not grasping the concept, re-visit or elaborate on the topic and then re-assess their understanding before moving on to the next concept. This use of clickers provides feedback not
    only to you as the instructor but also to the students. Students are able to see if they understand a topic and they can also see how they are thinking in comparison to their peers.
  • Peer instruction. This is similar to the think-pair-share model. Give students a mini-quiz using clickers to gauge understanding. Depending on their responses, have students discuss the topic within small groups and then re-poll.
  • Pre/post testing. As with peer instruction, one can do a quick in-class assessment to determine whether lecture material has been sufficiently covered.
  • Surveys. Opinion polls can be conducted using clickers’ anonymous mode.

If you are interested in learning more about using clickers for formative and summative assessment, contact the Learning Technology Center (x1848). Please note Clarion University’s standardized clicker model is the TurningPoint NXT response card.

This article was originally published in the April/May issue of Hand in Hand, and appears here with Darla’s permission.


Darla Ausel is the manager of the Learning Technology Center/Computing Services. She has over 16 years of experience as an instructional designer in higher education. She has also been developing/teaching online courses for the past six years.

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