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Clickers / Audio Response Systems


​​"I was pleasantly surprised by students' positive reaction to using their cell phones in class for clicker activities.  Clickers definitely promoted interaction during lectures and fostered a community for learning that I otherwise found difficult to establish."

- Monique Visser, Coordinator: B in Speech-Language and Hearing Therapy


What is an Audience Response System (ARS)?

It is hardware and software that facilitates the engagement of the audience and is used for teaching activities. Clickers is an example of an ARS.

Why do we use ARS’s (such as clickers) in our teaching?clicker process.PNG

del-Mar, Miñano, & del Campo, 2016 states that at the moment university learners are digital natives and they have a natural aptitude for using new technologies (Jones, Ramanau, Cross, & Healing, 2010) Therefore, the learning process and its implication are not the same for digital natives; as for them there is a positive influence of technology on the teaching-learning process (Brill & Galloway, 2007 and, in consequence, many university lecturers use non-traditional technologies in teaching.

One interesting teaching tool is audio response systems otherwise known as clickers, as it stimulates interactivity in the classroom, rather than just participation by a few students. It also provides instant feedback for both students and instructors, and feedback operates as a strong source of motivation which is essential for learning (Cloes, Premuzak, & Pieron, 1993; Koka & Hein, 2003).

“There are four learning principles that have been identified as valid concepts to promote effective learning in the classroom: active learning, providing feedback, increasing attention span and motivation (Beatty, 2004; Nelson & Hauck, 2008)" and the value for using clickers is that it incorporates all of this. As Johnson described how clickers address three of Chickering and Gamson's seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. Clickers help instructors

  • actively engage students during the entire class period,
  • gauge their level of understanding of the material being presented, and
  • provide prompt feedback to student questions.

(For a better understanding of clickers, there is a deep and recent review done by Keough, 2012)


Types of Audio Response Systems in use in the FMHS

  • Clickers on SUNLearn

  • Socrative (up to 150 students on a free profile) 

  • Kahoot (Unlimited number of students)

  • Voxvote (Unlimited number of students)

  • Plickers - if you prefer students to use paper

A good idea for ARS is to team students up so that they answer questions in pairs or small groups. This will increase the likelihood of participation. View possible activities below for the different ways you can use ARS to enhance your teaching.

If you would like to discuss this further or need help, please contact Janus van As.


Teaching with an Audio Response System

Audio Response Systems can be quite a powerful tool to use in your classroom to engage students in different ways, like assessing higher-order thinking skills or engage them in meaningful conversation.


Questions Types

Description of the Question types

Recall Questions

Students need to recall facts, concepts, or techniques that are relevant to lecture. These questions are often used to determine whether students prepared for class, remember key concepts from previous lectures, or have memorised key facts. They rarely generate discussion, and do not require higher-order thinking skills.


Conceptual Understanding Questions

This question type go beyond recall and assess a student's understanding of important concepts. The answer options are often based on student misconceptions and this helps the lecturer to identify whether students understand the concepts. This question type ask students to:

  • Match characteristics 
  • To classify examples
  • To select the best explanation for the concept


Application Questions

These questions require a student to apply what they know or understand about the specific concept. These questions often require students to:

  •  make a decision or choice in a given scenario
  •  to connect course content to “ a real-world" problem
  • implement procedures or techniques,
  • predict the outcome of experiments 


Critical Thinking Questions

These questions operate at the higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy, requiring students to analyze relationships among multiple concepts or make evaluations based on particular criteria. Often these questions are “one-best-answer questions," questions that include multiple answer choices that have merit. Students are asked to select the one best answer from these choices. One-best-answer questions aren't appropriate for exams, since the reasons students provide for or against answer choices are of more interest than their particular answer selections. However, these questions can be very effective in preparing students to engage in class discussions about their reasons.


Student Perspective Questions

These are questions that ask students to share their opinions, experiences, or demographic information. These questions do not have correct answers, but by surfacing the various perspectives of students in a class, they can help both instructors and students better understand those perspectives. They can often generate rich discussion, particularly questions about ethical, legal, or moral issues. They can also help students connect their personal experiences to more abstract course content. The anonymity that clickers provide is often an essential ingredient in asking these kinds of questions.


Confidence Level Questions

Asking students a content question, then following that by asking students to rate their confidence in their answers (high, medium, or low) can enhance the usefulness of information on student learning provided by the first question. Prompting students to assess their confidence can also aid in metacognition–learning about one's own learning. Instructors can also ask “predictive" confidence level questions by asking students how confident they are that they could correctly answer some question or accomplish some task in which they have not yet engaged.


Monitoring Questions

These are questions designed to provide instructors with information about how their students are approaching the learning process in their courses. For instance, one week before a paper assignment is due, instructors might ask students whether or not they have completed rough drafts as a way to gauge their progress. Asking students how long they took to complete an assignment they have just turned in can provide instructors with useful information about the difficulty of the assignment. Clicker questions can also be used to see if students remember good advice or course policies shared on a first-day-of-class course syllabus. The questions that appear on end-of-semester course evaluations also make useful monitoring questions at the midpoint of the semester.


Classroom Experiments

Classroom response systems can also be used to collect data from students for classroom experiments often used in the social sciences. Often data generated by students during class can be used to make points about social behavior. By allowing these data to be collected and analyzed during class, clickers can bring a sense of immediacy and relevance to these kinds of experiments.


Possible Activities with Audio Response Systems

Using ARS can be used in a number of different ways to enhance your teaching. However you should ensure that the specific activity you chose matches the course content, time constraints and learning objectives.  Below you can find some possible ways in which you can use  ARS. These activities are listed in order of increasing levels of student engagement.


If you want to know more please contact the Unit for Learning Technologies.