Personal Response System Revitalizes Class Participation

We all use remote controls to direct our televisions, VCRs, DVD players, and stereo systems. Now, that same infrared technology is being used to encourage student participation in the classroom. In the past, to get students to participate during a lecture, instructors might ask for a show of hands or a vocal response. The chatty students and know-it-alls were the first to answer, while other students remained quiet. It seemed impossible to get every student to voice her opinion. But with the recently developed Personal Response System, students use electronic ?clickers? to voice their opinions. Instructors get responses to all their questions, and hardly anyone looks bored. This new approach to class participation was piloted on campus in Spring 2004. The trial run of the system revealed a few bugs that hindered its use, but those haven't stopped either instructors or students from giving the Personal Response System a thumbs up.

How it Works

The EduCue Personal Response System is designed to encourage every student to participate in class by way of a hand-held remote control or clicker. The instructor asks students a multiple-choice question; the students then decide their response, point their clickers at one of the small infrared boxes installed in the classroom, and click the button that corresponds to their answer choice. Software compiles the answers instantly, and a graph detailing student responses is projected onto the screen for the entire class to see.

Each student enrolled in a class using the response system purchases a clicker at the bookstore (prices range from $3-$30, depending on the vendor). Students then register their clickers at the vendor's Web site or with the professor (different vendors have different requirements) so their student ID numbers will be recognized and recorded when they answer questions. Individual responses are not displayed to the class, but are recorded for the instructor's use. ct Tor Cross of the Teaching Resources Center at (530) 752-6050.