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Cornell University

Classroom Response Systems

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Course Re-Design
Measuring Student Learning
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What is a classroom response system (CRS)?
Why use classroom response systems?
How can you integrate CRS technology into a course?
How can you get started using classroom response systems?

What is a classroom response system (CRS)?

  • CRSs are also referred to as Classroom Response Technologies, Classroom Polling Systems, Clickers or Student/Audience Response Systems.
  • CRSs, such as i>clickers, consist of individual remotes that students use to respond to questions and a handheld transmitter that collects the student response data. Other classroom response technologies are web-based and students can use cell phones or other personal mobile devices to answer questions.
  • With this technology, lecturers can design multiple-choice questions for students to answer anonymously using a remote device. In addition to multiple-choice questions, some web-based classroom response software like Poll Everywhere allow for questions that require text responses, and Learning Catalytics allows for even more question types, such as those that require text, sketch, and mathematical expression responses.
  • Responses are instantly tabulated via the transmitter, or online for web-based technologies. The instructor can view responses in real time and can also share this visual with students using a projector.
  • i>clickers is the classroom response system (CRS) supported at Cornell. Academic Technologies can also address questions about web-based classroom response software, such as PollEverywhere and Learning Catalytics.


Overview of some classroom response system technologies

-Supported at Cornell.
-Requires students to purchase remote devices and the instructor needs a transmitter to tabulate responses and an overhead projector to display them.
-Allow multiple-choice response.

-Available online for a fee beyond basic features.
-Students can use cell phones to respond using text messages.
-Allow for multiple-choice and open-ended questions with textual response.

Learning Catalytics
-Available online for a fee beyond basic features.
-Students need web-enabled mobile devices to respond.
-Allow for multiple-choice and open-ended questions with textual, graphic, numerical, or algebraic responses.

Why use classroom response systems?

In conjunction with good question design, classroom response systems can:

  • Increase student engagement and classroom interaction.
  • Facilitate peer learning and class discussion.
  • Assess student learning efficiently on an ongoing basis.
  • Gauge student opinions in a confidential manner on sensitive topics.
  • Identify students’ background information and prior knowledge on a subject.
  • Help students recognize gaps in their own learning.

How can you integrate CRS technology into a course?

  • Consider how this technology might enhance your class. Would you like more classroom interaction? Do you need to gauge students’ prior knowledge? Do you want to see if students are learning?
  • Include information on the CRS in the syllabus, including how they will be used, why you are using them, what policies and rules you are putting in place for their use, when remote technology should be brought to class, and if/how you will grade students' responses.
  • Be aware that if you have your students buy and register the technology, they will expect them to be used regularly throughout the course.
  • Students may need some time to get remotes and register them; you may not want to use them in the first class or two.
  • If your CRS requires web-enabled mobile technologies, consider whether or not all of your students have these devices already.
  • There are many ways to use data gathered from the CRSs to contribute to a student’s grade, such as taking attendance and giving points for correct answers. Consider the pros and cons of using the data for grading before deciding if and how to do so. It is recommended that the technology not be used for “high stakes” grading.
  • Appropriate question design is critical when integrating CRS questions. Design questions that align with the class learning outcomes and that reinforce important material, or derive questions from student discussion sections, questions asked during office hours, or items frequently missed on exams.
  • CRSs will give you instant feedback from students, and you may uncover student misconceptions or lack of understanding that require clarification, feedback, or future learning activities.
  • CRSs can be used to facilitate collaborative learning by, for example, first posing a question, then allowing students time to think about their answers independently, and finally having them work in pairs or small groups to reach a consensus on the answer.


How can you get started using classroom response systems?



CTI Using i>clickers pdf (CU NetID required to access. Link redirects to login page.)
Clicker Resources prepared by University of Colorado Science Education Initiative (CU-SEI) and University of British Columbia Science Education Initiative (CWSEI) staff & associates.
Academic Technologies website on Classroom Response Systems
Academic Technologies Polling help website
PollEverywhere Website
Learning Catalytics Website

Past CTI Presentation Materials

Places to Go Next

Using Effective Questions
What Do Students Already Know?
Measuring Student Learning
Increasing Student Participation


Beatty, I. D. & Gerace, W. J. (2009). Technology-enhanced formative assessment: A research-based pedagogy for teaching science with classroom response technology. Journal of Science Education & Technology, 18, 146-142.

Beatty, I., Gerace, W., Leonard, W., & Dufresne, R. (2006). Designing effective questions for classroom response system teaching. American Journal of Physics, 74(1), 31-39.

Bruff, D. (2009). Teaching with classroom response systems: Creating active learning environments. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Caldwell, J. E. (2007). Clickers in the large classroom: Current research and best-practice tips. Life Sciences Education, 6(1). 9-20.

Deslauriers L, Schelew E, Wieman C. (2011). Improved learning in a large-enrollment physics class. Science, 332, 862-864.

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2005). 7 things you should know about clickers. EDUCAUSE. Retrieved from:

University of Colorado Science Education Initiative & University of British Columbia Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative. (2008). Clicker Resource Guide: An Instructor’s Guide to the Effective Use of Personal Response Systems (Clickers) in Teaching. Retrieved from:

Zhu, E. (2007). Teaching with clickers. CRLT Occasional Paper No. 22. Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, The University of Michigan. Retrieved from:
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