Iowa State University

ITInformation Technology

Using Clickers for Class

This news item expired January 10, 2007. It may contain out-of-date information.
Clickers are devices that resemble television remote controls and allow faculty to poll students during a class. Faculty members around the country are finding clickers to be a useful tool in the classroom for many reasons. Clickers enable a more effective, efficient, and engaging educational experience for both faculty and students. Interaction, feedback, and engagement are all important learning principles that can be facilitated with clickers, as they provide an avenue for active participation by all students. Active participation means that students are listening and responding.

The use of clickers is especially effective in large lecture environments, where faculty-student interaction is limited. For instructors, clickers provide instant feedback about any confusion or misunderstanding of materials presented. The feedback provided through the use of clickers also helps faculty with future curriculum development. For students, clickers are useful in determining whether or not their understandings of concepts are correct, discovering misconceptions that need clarification, and learning what to study to improve their performance.

Clickers can also be used to gauge student opinion on controversial or sensitive issues, sparking discussion and debate, which can turn a passive lecture into an engaging, interactive exchange.

Information for Instructors
Instructors who would like to use this new technology in their classrooms need a receiver that plugs into their laptop as well as the software that collects and stores the responses from the students‘ clickers. Faculty who are interested in utilizing clickers should contact Jim Twetten, Information Technology Services, or Yaoling Wang, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT). Faculty training and one on one consultation for the Turning Point Technology used at Iowa State University is also offered by CELT.

Information for Students
Clickers from Turning Point Technologies have been adopted as the standard system used and supported at Iowa State University. Students enrolled in classes requiring clickers have two options:
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[*]A clicker can be purchased at the University bookstore and programmed for the owner.
[*]Response software can be purchased and loaded onto a student‘s laptop, which will function as the clicker during class.
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Only one clicker or software package is required for each student. If a student is enrolled in more than one class requiring a clicker, the same one may be used by that student in any class that requires it. Once a clicker is purchased, there are no additional fees to pay.

Because the clicker can only be registered to one person, it is not possible to share the device with other students who need them for other classes. Each student is responsible for having their own clicker or software for classes requiring clickers.