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Personal response systems

How They Work

Personal Response Systems (PRS) enable students to respond to questions posed by their instructors using remote hand-held devices, or an app on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. After students have responded, instructors can show the results on a graph (that doesn’t reveal individual votes). Instructors can choose whether to treat responses anonymously or incorporate the scores into course grading. BC currently supports i>Clicker and Poll Everywhere. 

How They Are Used

Personal Response Systems can be a key component in flipped classrooms and other settings where active involvement by students is essential. More generally, they are used to facilitate classroom discussions, to check how well students understand key concepts, and to create engagement in large lecture courses. Well-designed questions call upon students to reflect upon, extend, and enhance their understanding of class material.

Benefits Of A PRS

Increased Student Engagement

When students know they will be asked to respond to questions at indeterminate times, they remain more engaged. Also, students become more involved because they feel a sense of ownership since their answers can affect the flow of the course presentation. The class shifts from an instructor-centric to a more student-centric class. Instructors using PRSs report a decreased use of non-classroom-related activities during class, such as messaging to friends.  Some instructors have also reported higher attendance rates.

More Widespread Student Involvement

Since each student’s answers cannot be seen by other students, PRSs create a safe environment for unsure students. In many courses, the same students tend to dominate classroom discussions. The use of PRSs increases the involvement of those students who typically remain quiet. When the quieter students see how their responses correlate to those of the rest of the class, they gain confidence in their own understanding, increasing their likelihood to participate in class discussions.

Immediate Feedback For Instructor

Sometimes instructors don’t get accurate feedback about how well students understand course material until an exam. With PRSs, instructors can learn immediately how well students understand the presented material. Depending on student response, instructors might alter their lecture, generate a discussion, or follow up with an appropriate assignment.

Immediate Feedback For Students

Students can see how well they understand the class material and can compare their understanding to that of their classmates. They can use this knowledge to gain confidence and to understand what they need to work on. Students in a traditional lecture environment may not always realize which concepts they have difficulty understanding until they do an assignment or study for an exam. With appropriate use of a PRS they can recognize problems earlier and ask questions in the classroom with the instructor available.

Teaching Tips

Teaching Examples

i>Clicker

For more information and assistance with getting started, please see the information on i>clicker.

Poll Everywhere

For more information and assistance with getting started, please see the information on Poll Everywhere.