Student response systems (SRSs) allow instructors to obtain real-time feedback during lectures by providing the opportunity for students to respond to questions featured in a presentation. They can be used to take attendance, enhance discussions, and evaluate course content or material comprehension.

Carleton University primarily supports the use of the Poll Everywhere student response system. The EDC has a group of Poll Everywhere licenses that allows instructors to use Poll Everywhere in any or all of the courses that they are teaching.

Using Student Response Systems in the Classroom

The benefits of using an SRS in the classroom are numerous. Research has consistently shown that SRS use can improve student attention during lectures, increase student engagement in course content, encourage greater peer-to-peer and professor-to-student interaction, and function as an effective mode of formative assessment, among other things. Here are a few ideas about how to use an SRS in your classroom:

Class discussion
SRSs can help initiate class discussions in which students might otherwise be hesitant to participate. Making the responses anonymous helps increase student engagement.

Contingent teaching and learning
SRSs allow instructors to assess how well students understand a certain concept. Instructors can redirect their lectures based on student responses.

Course feedback 
By running an anonymous real-time survey, instructors can gather immediate student feedback on the lecture, class discussion, homework assignments, group activities, or the overall learning experience in the course and make adjustments as needed.

Participation and attendance 
Student responses to questions asked at the beginning of the lecture can be used as a record of their attendance. Instructors can easily run reports on student responses and find out who is participating in the class.

Know how to use the SRS before using it in the classroom 
Familiarize yourself with the SRS technologically and pedagogically ahead of time. The EDC can help! Contact us to set up a consultation.

Simplify sentences, reduce word count, and paraphrase
Questions should be easy to read and understand in no more than 10 to 15 seconds (aim for 25 to 30 words). Questions that have too many unnecessary words only confuse the audience and produce unreliable results.

Add a ‘Not Sure’ option
Adding a “Not Sure” option to question answers stops students from guessing if they don’t know, increases the percentage of students who will respond, and creates a more reliable outcome.

Survey for opinions
Use the SRS as a poll or survey system to collect an audience’s opinions about important topics.

Interweave questions throughout presentations 
Questions should be strategically placed and interspersed throughout a presentation, rather than batched one after another. A good rule of thumb is to ask a breakout question at least once every 10 minutes to keep the audience engaged.

Avoid jumping to show the correct answer 
Show the response distribution, and then ask questions that lead students to assess their choice. This will create discussion and improve student understanding.

Explain the link between clickers and course goals 
Explain why the SRS is being used in the course and how it can help students achieve learning outcomes. Make sure students understand whether or not they are being graded on SRS activities.

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