personal response systems

Tim McKay, (tamckay@umich.edu) from Physics, LSA, discusses why he uses clickers and the benefits he sees in the classroom.

Short interview clip

Full-length interview

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Josepha Kurdziel, (josephak@umich.edu) from Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, LSA, demonstrated and discussed her use of the wireless classroom response systems to involve students in active learning and critical thinking in large lectures at the CRLT IT Luncheon on Friday February 4, 2005.

You can see her PowerPoint presentation (in note form) and watch a preview, and/or an edited version of the presentation.

PowerPoint notes - .pdf 
Preview of Presentation
IT Luncheon Presentation

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Brief Description: 

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.

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.
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Assessing students’ prior knowledge and identifying misconceptions before introducing a new subject

Prior knowledge is necessary for learning but can be problematic if it is not accurate or sufficient.   It is a good practice for faculty to assess students’ prior knowledge of a subject and identify common misconceptions in order to find an appropriate entry point for introducing a new topic.   By using clicker multiple- choice questions, faculty can quickly gauge students’ knowledge level.   For instance, in a Fall 2006 Chemistry class at U-M, the professor started each lecture with clicker questions asking students to identify new concepts or distinguish between various new concepts discussed in the assigned readings.

Checking students’ understanding of new material

Clicker technology makes it easy for faculty to check students’mastery of lecture content. The immediate display of student responses enables faculty and students to see how well students understand the lecture.   As a result, faculty can decide whether there is a need for further instruction or supplementary materials.   By seeing peers’ responses, students can gauge how well they are doing in relation to others in the class and determine which topics they need to review or bring to office hours. Read more »

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