by Rosa Fattahi, WizIQ
Classroom Response Systems—also known as Audience Response Systems, Student Response Systems, or Personal Response Systems—are increasingly popular and effective pedagogical tools. On the simplest level, these systems are the technological version of a teacher asking students questions and seeking individual responses or calling for a “show of hands” for specific answer choices. What make Classroom Response Systems particularly useful are the many options for viewing results and the wealth of applications in the classroom that they offer.
Using a Classroom Response System, teachers can pose questions to students, collect students’ answers electronically, and produce and display a chart or graph of student responses. The histogram of responses can then serve as a basic assessment tool for the teacher, or the results can be displayed to the students and used to prompt further class discussion. The recent trend of using Classroom Response Systems is due to their recognizable benefits and useful applications for both aiding teacher assessment and encouraging student engagement.
First, a Classroom Response System, or CRS, is a useful tool for helping teachers assess student comprehension and improve pedagogy. Using a CRS, teachers can:
Quickly determine student comprehension. Teachers can ask CRS-facilitated questions during class to assess student understanding of the material. Also, the real-time, in-class feedback allows teachers to refine their methods immediately, if needed.
Immediately adapt pedagogy during class. With CRS, teachers can provide stronger instruction by adapting to student learning right in the classroom, rather than waiting for homework or tests to reveal student comprehension. For example, if the results of a CRS activity show that many students chose the wrong answer to a question, then the teacher can refine their instruction by adjusting the pace of their presentation or providing further clarification. Likewise, if the histogram of results shows that most students answered correctly, the teacher knows their instruction has been successful and can move on.
Easily give and grade in-class quizzes. Using a CRS allows teachers to easily give quizzes during class and display the results quickly, either to themselves or to the students as well. Many CRS technologies support both anonymous and non-anonymous submission of student responses, which increases the options for using the results in class.
Take attendance. A CRS is an easy way for teachers to take attendance quickly during class, particularly with larger classes. Teachers can even take attendance more than once with little classroom disruption.
In addition, incorporating CRS activities in the classroom can help keep students more actively engaged. When just passively listening, the attention span of the average person is quite short, so it is a challenge for teachers to keep students’ attention during a lecture. By simply inserting a few CRS- related activities during lecture, however, teachers can maintain student attention and increase participation. In the classroom, a CRS works to:
Encourage the in-class participation of all students. Using CRS-related activities in class promotes student learning by encouraging all students to participate. Rather than asking verbal questions and repeatedly receiving responses from the most eager students, a teacher that incorporates CRS exercises can involve all the students in class at once. Moreover, many students feel uncomfortable addressing sensitive social or moral issues in class, and a CRS enables them to do so easily. Because a CRS lets students respond quietly or even anonymously to teacher queries, less outgoing or outspoken students have a means to safely express themselves in the classroom.
Foster active student engagement. With a CRS, a teacher is able to prompt students with questions during class, and the act of answering each question serves to keep students more actively engaged and focused, which increases learning potential. Plus, students who know that a question is coming are more likely to pay attention in class.
Facilitate dialogue. A CRS provides teachers with a useful tool for fostering class discussion. For example, a question that results in a variety of student responses can be the catalyst for a dynamic and strong classroom dialogue. Seeing the distribution of other students’ responses can also aid a student’s own understanding of the topic, and noting the distribution of student comprehension can help a teacher lead the class in the right direction for a fruitful debate.
Promote collaborative learning. A teacher can use CRS results to encourage collaborative learning with group work. Teachers can group students in a number of ways according to the histogram results (grouping like-minded and/or opposing views), and then challenge students to work together and reconsider the question to either determine a unified defense for their chosen answer or come to a consensus; such group work, or peer instruction, can be extremely beneficial to the learning process.
Improve attendance. Studies have even shown that CRS can lead to improved attendance rates. Students who know their teacher will be using a CRS to take attendance or deliver in-class questions or quizzes are more likely to attend class, as they know there will be a digital record of their presence and participation.
Using a CRS In the traditional classroom setting requires purchasing both the hardware “clickers” that students use in responding to queries and the corresponding software to analyze and present the results. Such systems can be quite expensive, though, and popular models like the QClick or Elmo CRS can cost thousands of dollars.
However, there are ways to incorporate CRS techniques in the classroom without purchasing an additional system. For example, online educational platforms such as WizIQ have unique, built-in features that provide teachers with the benefits of a CRS without the cost of specific hardware or software. WizIQ’s polling feature, for example, allows teachers to create poll questions or quizzes to use during a live class session and receive instant feedback from students.
The polling results can be anonymously displayed as a pie chart or bar chart, or they can be viewed as a simple list of student responses; teachers also have the option of displaying poll results for students and using them as a catalyst for further discussion. The polling feature from WizIQ, then, gives teachers the functionality of a CRS in the virtual classroom— without having to purchase additional tools!
If a teacher wants to perform easy in-class assessments and promote stronger student engagement, a Classroom Response System, or CRS, is an extremely valuable instructional tool. It not only empowers the teacher by giving them a frequent means of assessing student comprehension and performance so they can adjust their pedagogy if needed, but it also works to improve student participation and increase learning potential during class.
This is a contributed post from the developers of WizIQ, a promotional partner with TeachThought; image attribution flickr user universityofhawaiiwestoahu and debwilch