What are Clickers?

Clickers, more formally known as Classroom Response Systems or Student Response Systems, are electronic polling devices that can provide immediate feedback on student learning. The clicker system consists of input devices (keypads or remotes), a receiver, software and a classroom projection system.


During class, the instructor presents a multiple-choice question in a PowerPoint slide and the students key in their answers using their keypads. The receiver collects student responses and the software generates a bar chart showing th distribution of those responses, which you can optionally show students. It then takes a screenshot of the graph along with the question for later review or data analysis.

students using clickers

What can clickers do?

This question is better posed as “What can clickers potentially do?”, or “What do I want clickers to do”? Here’s why:

Clickers are tools, not methods. They do not automatically bring about learning. However, they do possess more enabling features than alternative feedback tools such as raising hands. For example, they collect and tally answers much faster and more accurately with less possibility for conformity (students selecting an answer chosen by the majority). They encourage every student to participate because of the double benefit of anonymity and accountability they provide – a student’s remote is identifiable to the teacher but not to other students.

All the above are affordances of the technology which can only serve learning when used with solid instructional methods. For example, you can have all students participate in answering a question, but it does not necessarily mean they will seriously think about the question before answering or really engage with the course material. Similarly, if the instructor does not adjust his or her teaching based on the immediate feedback collected with clickers, the great benefit of formative assessment will be lost. So the advantages of using clickers lie in the fact that they support the implementation of sound, interactive instructional techniques.

When used effectively, here are just a few of the things you can do with clickers in the classroom (Duncan, 2006):

  • Measure what students know before you start to teach them (pre-assessment)
  • Measure student attitudes
  • Find out if students have done their assigned reading(s)
  • Get students to confront common misconceptions
  • Transform the way you do any demonstrations
  • Increase students’ retention
  • Test student understanding (formative assessment)
  • Make some kinds of grading and assessment easier
  • Facilitate testing of conceptual understanding
  • Facilitate discussion and Peer Instruction
  • Increase class attendance

How can clickers facilitate learning?

When pedagogically sound principles are applied, clickers can address the three principles of student learning summarized by McConnell (2009):

How to get set up with Clickers

There is no cost for instructors to borrow an i>clicker teacher’s kit. To borrow a teacher’s kit, submit a request for equipment or contact the Service Desk.

Students are required to buy the clickers (the current cost is $52.49 (new)), which they can rent or buy new or used at the Concordia bookstores.

Professors who wish to buy a device may contact the Concordia bookstores for availability and pricing information.

i>Clicker Faculty Getting Started Checklist

Additional resources for creating Clicker questions

Beatty ID, Leonard WJ, Gerace WJ, Dufresne RJ (2006) Question driven instruction: teaching science (well) with an audience response system. In: Banks DA (ed) Audience response systems in higher education: applications and cases. Idea Group Inc, Hershey, pp 96–115.

Writing Great Clicker Questions: Faculty Workshop (video) presented by Stephanie Chasteen, University of Boulder Colorado.


7 Things you should Know about Clickers (Educause)

Case studies, White papers and video presentations on using clickers in Higher Education (iClicker)

Clicker Resource Guide: An Instructors Guide to the Effective Use of Personal Response Systems (Clickers) in Teaching prepared by University of Colorado Science Education Initiative (CU-SEI) and University of British Columbia Science Education Initiative (CWSEI).  

Tri-Fold: Ready, Set, React! Getting the most out of peer instruction using clickers by Peter Newbury and Cynthia Heiner, Physics and Astronomy, UBC. 


Beatty, I.D., Gerace, W. J., Leonard, W.J. & Dufresne, R.J. (2006) Designing effective questions for classroom response system teaching. Retrieved from July 6, 2015.

Bruff, D. (2009). Teaching with Classroom Response Systems: Creating Active Learning Environments. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Crouch, C.H., & Mazur, E. (2001). Peer Instruction: Ten years of experience and results. American Journal of Physics, 69, 970-977.

Duncan, D. (2006). Clickers: A New Teaching Aid with Exceptional Promise. Astronomy Education Review, 5 (1), 70-88.

Henderson, C. & Rosenthal, A. (2006). Reading Questions: Encouraging Students to Read the Text Before Coming to Class. Journal of College Science Teaching, 35 (7), 46-50.

Hobson, E.H. (2004). Getting Students to Read: Fourteen Tips. The Idea Center. Retrieved from:

McConnell, D.A. (2009). Clicker Pedagogy in Larger Classes: How using clickers can improve learning. Retrieved from:


Back to top

© Concordia University