Educators proclaim better learning through student response 

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The research is definitive: properly used, student response systems enable educators to achieve startling improvements in learning outcomes with their classes. Is this surprising?

It shouldn’t be. Only by adopting these solutions can educators (and the group as a whole) achieve instant regular feedback on the class’ readiness and understanding of the topic. By having access to this, educators can tailor their work with the class to better suit the immediate learning needs. This fosters a teaching and learning experience based on “real time” formative assessment: it ensures the continuous participation of students and the the educator’s ability to respond instantly to learning opportunities.

Dr Steve Draper, University of Glasgow has created an extensive on line resource for educators which is not product-specific but is concerned instead with practical considerations for educators interested in the benefits and barriers to employing student response systems and practices. This resource includes a growing bibliography of references to educator experiences.

Dr Will Thalheimer, long-respected instructuional design expert and contemporary education blogger, has re-issued his ground-breaking 2003 tome “The Learning Benefits of Questions” and appended supporting research since, in his on-line Work-Learning Research catalog.

Dee Silverthorn of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Texas a Austin uses a CRS in her upper level vertebrate physiology class. You can see and hear her describe her experiences and see the CCS in action through a series of well-produced QuickTime videos at University of Texas. Other educator videos can be viewed at Purdue University.

The Interactive Technology to Improve the Classroom Experience (INTICE) project at the College of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin evaluated the use of a CRS in one of their architectural engineering core classes. Their report details their evaluation methods and results.

A White Paper by eInstruction’s Dr Darryl Ward describes the classroom methodology for CPS (email for a copy).

The Cornell University Mathematics Department’s GoodQuestions Project has adapted the Just-in-Time Teaching and ConcepTests used in physics education for use in calculus classrooms. They have made available some excellent classroom materials for use with CRSs.

Ian Beatty of the University of Massachusetts Amherst Physics Education Research Group (UMPERG), has over ten years of experience with CRSs. This paper (2006) by Beatty et al describes best practice relating to effective preparation of questions. It opens: “Classroom response systems (CRSs) can be potent tools for teaching physics. Their efficacy, however, depends strongly on the quality of the questions used. Creating effective questions is difficult, and differs from creating exam and homework problems…. We identify several tactics that help in the design of potent questions, and present four “makeovers” showing how these tactics can be used to convert traditional physics questions into more powerful CRS questions.”