Teaching with Clickers

Developed by: N/A

middle schoolhigh schoolintro collegeinter-mediateupper levelgrad school   other

 Intro College Calculus-based
calc based
 Intro College Algebra-based
alg based
 Intro College Conceptual

Mechanics  Electricity / Magnetism  Waves / Optics  Thermal / Statistical  Modern / Quantum +4
Lecture - Large (30+ students)  Lecture - Small (<30 students)  Recitation/Discussion Session  Lab  Studio

What? Students use electronic devices to answer questions and instructors collect and display responses, facilitating student engagement and collaboration. Can be used as a part of many different teaching methods, including Peer Instruction, TEFA, and CAE Think-Pair-Share.

Why? Clickers are an easy way to add interactivity to a traditional lecture course without making drastic changes. They are a useful tool to get your students engaged and talking, and to help you learn and respond to what your students are thinking, both of which can lead to improved student learning.

Why not? If you just use clickers to give quizzes or take attendance, students will resent them and won't learn more. Clickers add an extra cost for students, which may not be worth it. Flashcards are cheaper, and may be better because students are more accountable when you can see their answers.

Example materials


Classroom video

Student skills developed

Designed for:
  • Conceptual understanding
Can be adapted for:
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Making real-world connections
  • Using multiple representations
  • Metacognition

Instructor effort required

  • Medium

Resources required

  • Clickers / polling method
  • Cost for students

Developer's website: Teaching with Clickers
Intro Article: C. Keller, N. Finkelstein, K. Perkins, S. Pollock, C. Turpen, and M. Dubson, Research-based Practices For Effective Clicker Use, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2007, Greensboro, NC, 2007.

See our Expert Recommendation on finding good questions to use with clickers or Peer Instruction for an extensive list of databases of clicker questions, as well as suggestions for writing your own questions.

Bronze Validation
This is the third highest level of research validation, corresponding to:
  • at least 1 of the "based on" categories
  • at least 1 of the "demonstrated to improve" categories
  • at least 1 of the "studied using" categories
(Categories shown below)

Research Validation Summary

Based on Research Into:

  • theories of how students learn
  • student ideas about specific topics

Demonstrated to Improve:

  • conceptual understanding
  • problem-solving skills
  • lab skills
  • beliefs and attitudes
  • attendance
  • retention of students
  • success of underrepresented groups
  • performance in subsequent classes

Studied using:

  • cycle of research and redevelopment
  • student interviews
  • classroom observations
  • analysis of written work
  • research at multiple institutions
  • research by multiple groups
  • peer-reviewed publication


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