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IT Connect

Information technology tools and resources at the UW

Using clickers in the classroom

What are clickers?

Classroom Response Systems, or CRS (also called “Clickers”, “Audience Response Systems”, “Student Response Systems” and 25 other names), are used primarily to poll or quiz students in a live classroom. Clickers, which are either radio-frequency based devices or cellphone-based apps (aka Bring Your Own Device or BYOD), give each student the opportunity to answer questions asked by the instructor in real time.

Clickers support teaching and learning in several ways. Live responses:

  • help students draw on prior knowledge
  • drive classroom discussion
  • provide real-time feedback about student comprehension
  • bring active learning to the classroom

A number of peer-reviewed studies have validated the effectiveness of Classroom Response Systems and techniques. See references below.


Encouraging Equity Through Active Learning — UW Biology courtesy of University of Washington College of Arts & Sciences

Selected literature:

Beatty, I. D., & Gerace, W. J. (April 01, 2009). Technology-Enhanced Formative Assessment: A Research-Based Pedagogy for Teaching Science with Classroom Response Technology. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18, 2, 146-162.

Crouch, C. H., & Mazur, E. (2001). Peer instruction: Ten years of experience and results. American Journal of Physics, 69(9), 970-977.

Fagen, A. P., Crouch, C. H., & Mazur, E. (2002). Peer instruction: Results from a range of classrooms. The Physics Teacher, 40(4), 206-209.

Kay, R. H., & LeSage, A. (2009). Examining the benefits and challenges of using audience response systems: A review of the literature. Computers & Education, 53(3), 819-827.

J.R. Stowell, J.M. Nelson. Benefits of electronic audience response systems on student participation, learning, and emotion. Teaching of Psychology, 34 (2007), pp. 253–258