Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology


Student Response Systems

Considerable research shows that when students are actively engaged in learning, their level of understanding and retention increases. While there are many ways to foster active learning through dialogue, in-class writing tasks, and hands-on activities, large, lecture-based courses can be challenging due to their lack of interactive opportunities. In such courses, the use of clickers – student response systems – can be very effective. 

As its name suggests, a clicker allows a student to respond to a prompt by submitting multiple choice, numeric, and short answer solutions with a few clicks of a hand-held device. On the surface, clickers can seem like a mere polling or gaming device, but they are capable of supporting deep learning by:

  • Requiring students to stay engaged with the flow of information
  • Offering students a chance to gauge their understanding through immediate feedback on low-stakes questions
  • Stimulating discussion

Clickers also benefit instructors by:

  • Monitoring students’ immediate understanding
  • Gathering data on student learning and retention over the course of a lecture, unit, and term
  • Allowing for the development and testing of future assessment questions
  • Enabling instructors to adjust their teaching to better accommodate student learning

Clickers are used in innovative ways by Cal Poly instructors. 

Which Clicker?

Based upon a campus pilot, usage analysis, and faculty input, the i>Clicker has been selected as the preferred student response system at Cal Poly. Faculty have found these response systems to be especially helpful in large classrooms. Although instructors have academic freedom to use any student response system in their classroom, Cal Poly is committed to supporting a standardized clicker to minimize student cost (i.e., not having to buy different clickers for different courses) and in order to meet 508 accessibility requirements. Cal Poly currently recommends the i>Clicker 2, which allows students to submit answers from their i>Clicker device or their smartphone.

Instructors may order i>Clickers for student purchase through the Cal Poly University Store. Technical support for i>Clickers is offered by the company itself through email at support@iclicker.com or by phone at (866) 209-5698.

For more information, please view our Cal Poly Clicker Strategy page and our Cal Poly Clicker FAQ

Additional Resources:

Brown Bag Session on Clickers with Dr. Naresh Sen and Dr. Grace Goschke

Carl Weiman Science Education Initiative (CSWEI) at the University of British Columbia's Clicker Resources

CWSEI's Clicker Resource Guide

How to Use Clickers Effectively (Science Education Initiative, University of Colorado)



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