THE EFFECT OF CLASSROOM PERFORMANCE SYSTEMS
IN A SCIENCE CLASSROOM
The Department of Instructional Design and Technology
EMPORIA STATE UNIVERSITY
In Partial Fulfillment
Of the Requirements for the Degree
Master of Science
Dr. Armand Seguin, Chair
Dr. Marc Childress
Dr. Harvey Foyle
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1: Introduction.................................................................................Page 1
Chapter 2: Review of Literature....................................................................Page 3
Chapter 3: Method.........................................................................................Page 14
Chapter 4: Results.........................................................................................Page 17
Chapter 5: Conclusions.................................................................................Page 21
When I first started teaching, I taught in a very small high school where I had from five
to twelve students in a class. However, when I switched schools, the class size increased
significantly. Now it is not uncommon to have 24 students to a class and there have been some
years in which that number approached 30. With this increasing number of students in each
class, the individual student became lost and in some cases withdrawn to the point that he or she
would not say a word unless called upon. Even then, the stude nt was sometimes hesitant to
respond due to fear of being ridiculed by other peers, or possibly due to shyness. Thus, during
lectures or classroom discussions, some students would go through the entire class without any
useful monitoring. I was having a much harder time evaluating student comprehension of
lectures in a timely manner. Because of the number of students, papers were sometimes not
graded by the next class period and students’ problems were not being discovered before tests
Last year I attended a national science convention where I learned of a piece of
technology called a student response system in which the instructor could monitor the progress
of an entire class in real time, as well as obtain reports for each individual student. I felt that I
should somehow try to obtain one of these devices in an attempt to give more feedback to
individual students. I wanted to see if the students’ science concepts would improve by having
instant feedback from an instructor. Can this type of technology increase a student’s learning?
Over the summer I was able to persuade The Clicker Guys, (a distributor of eInstruction’s
Classroom Performance System®), to allow me to use such a device for a semester. I hoped to
learn for myself the capabilities of this technology.
This type of technology goes by many names such as “classroom response systems”,
“classroom performance system (CPS)”,” peer response systems”, or sometimes affectionately
called “clickers”. There are many companies that make and distribute these student, hand held
devices. Some of the companies that manufacture this type of technology include: eInstruction
Corporation, Quizdom, TurningPoint, and Options Technologies Interactive (OTI), as well as
many others. Each company has a variety of hand held response systems with various features
ranging in price from about $1,500 to $8,000 for a complete system. Sets in this price range
include close to 30 hand held devices. Price differences are mostly due to the kind of receiver,
(wired, infrared or radio frequency) being used. The price also varies based on the kinds of
responses the students can enter into the keypad. Some keypads only allow for multiple choice,
true- false or yes-no type questions to be answered. Other, more expensive keypads are equipped
with a keyboard for entering numbers or letters. The common factor is that they all are used by
instructors to gather real-time data about the students’ understanding of the concepts being
presented. The reason I chose the CPS system by eInstruction was because The Clicker Guys, an
eInstruction system distributor, allowed me to use the system free for a semester so that I could
research this type of product. I would like to thank The Clicker Guys for providing me with this
opportunity. They have been tremendously helpful in getting the system set up for me as well as
always being available to answer my numerous questions I had about their system.
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Educational research in schools identifies the practice of monitoring student learning as
an essential part of high-quality education. In environments where there is careful monitoring of
students’ progress, students are more likely to succeed (Cotton, 1988). For the purposes of this
paper, I will use the definition of monitoring to mean “activities pursued by teachers to keep
track of student learning for purposes of making instructional decisions and providing feedback
to students on their progress” (Cotton, 1988).
Instruction in the classroom can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Presentation is
one of many different parts of the learning process. Until just recently, monitoring students’
progress and giving students productive feedback during lecture or presentation has been a very
difficult, if not impossible task. In a recent article found in Education Technology, Research,
and Development (Fitch, 2004, p72), research suggests that, “interactivity is one of the most
important factors in the design and development of effective computer-based instruction
materials…and that interactive learning heightened student interest and improved higher
cognitive learning.” The article goes on to state that “it can be concluded that there is convincing
evidence that interactivity [and feedback] is a critical part of any form of technology-based
learning” (Fitch, 2004, p72). The author of the article believes that interaction may be the most
important factor in computer based instruction. Traditionally this interaction was only obtained
through direct questioning or a show of hands in a classroom. Thus, a limited amount of
interaction and feedback was possible and not every student was benefiting from this type of
interaction. To help alleviate this problem, current technology has bee n developed. This type of
technology allows instructors to ask questions and to obtain feedback from the entire class
simultaneously. This new technology is called a classroom response system.
“A classroom response system is a small network (radio freque ncy, infrared, or wired) for
an individual classroom” (Wiley, 2004). These devices are made up of a computer, a projection
device, student transmitters, a receiver, and sometimes an instructor unit. The computer runs
software that records each student’s answers and provides feedback to the instructor as it comes
to the receiver. Students get immediate feedback to questions presented by the instructor. The
system works by recognizing the individual ID’s of each student’s response unit. Instructors can
ask questions that consist of yes/no, true/false, or multiple choice formats. Other uses for these
include polling students or even simulating a game- like situation much like the popular TV
show, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, as well as other competition- like games.
Other advantages for the instructor include being able to take attendance quickly, detect
attendance patterns in large classes, obtain baseline knowledge, correct persistent
misconceptions, check for concept mastery, aid in preparing students for new material and
obtain 100% student participation. Questions can be graded on the spot and reports of
individuals viewed instantly. Most systems can also integrate the system with PowerPoint.
Advantages for the students include interactive partic ipation, instant feedback, confidential
student-to teacher responses, immediate correction of mistakes, and students’ increased
enjoyment of the class (Smartroom, 2004). It was surprising to see that classroom response
systems have been around for almost three decades. However, these devices are finally starting
to become more prominent in schools at all levels.
In a presentation at a No Child Left Behind leadership summit, Susan Patrick, the US
educational technology director, stated that technology can play a major role in supporting the
No Child Left Behind Act, (a law passed by President Bush in 2002 that forces schools to
educate every child to his or her fullest potential). Ms. Patrick states that one way to accomplish
this is by “equipping teachers with productive tools, empowering teachers, parents, and decision
makers with real-time data, engaging students in their education, and individualizing learning by
personalizing instruction for each student’s unique learning needs” (Patrick, 2004). The
classroom response system makes these claims. This project hopes to show that the classroom
response system is a valid piece of technology that can be used to improve student learning.
Early research from the science department at Rutgers University provides some
interesting data collected from students who used a classroom response system in large lecture
halls in an introductory physics class. A survey about the use of the response devices was given
to the students in the class and 95% of the 85 students that responded said that they felt that they
got more out of lecture by using the CPS. Over 85% of the students also said that it was helpful
to discuss the wrong answers, and they felt that the CPS made them more involved in lecture.
Students also said that they gained confidence in themselves with a correct response and that
they were more likely to respond than if they had to raise their hand (Shapiro, 1997).
Ball State University also did some preliminary research in classroom response systems,
but the data is very general. It states that 90% of the students liked the system and thought it had
value. However the nine faculty that were to experiment with this technology reported that it
takes a great deal of time to implement correctly. They felt that the response system was useful
and that it improved interaction among lectures (Ober, 1997).
In an article found in The Physics Teacher magazine, Mr. Milner suggests ten tips to
follow to achieve better results when using a classroom response system in an introductory
physics classroom. They are as follows:
1. Think carefully about the main concepts of every part of your lecture and
create one conceptual multiple-choice question targeting this concept. Try
to make the question as clear as possible. Do not overload it with
mathematical calculations, since it will require more time to answer and
will make more students guess.
2. While coming up with the distracters, use the ones with wrong units, the
conceptually impossible, as well as the distracters representing common
novice misconceptions. Do not underestimate the power of humorous
3. Do not allow the students to answer the question right away. After posting
the question, ask students to discuss their answer with each other.
4. Only after you see that most of the students came up with their answer,
start the response system.
5. After the answers are displayed on a large screen as a histogram, make a
decision regarding what to do next. If the majority of the students answer
correctly, go on. However, if the students answers are random or a split
between two or three choices, ask for a few student volunteers to explain
their choices. … Give students the opportunity to figure out the answers
6. After this discussion, ask the students to input their answers a second time.
7. Make the response questions part of your assessment. For instance, you
can announce in advance that 30% of the exam will be composed of the
questions based on the problems discussed in lecture. This will make the
students focus more on the lecture and on the group discussions of the
8. Do not feel disappointed if you spend too much time on one question and
did not cover all the material. If you actively involved the students in the
lecture, helping them understand rather than memorize the material, you
did your job.
9. Create a learning friendly environment of mutual respect and
responsibility via getting to know your students.
10. Always remember the goal of the response system questions is not to
punish the students who could not answer the questions correctly, but to
help every one of them to be successful in physics learning via active
involvement in the lecture. (Milner-Bolotin, 2004, p. 253-254)
The article also suggests that the instructor must first become acquainted with the
software and its uses before any significant learning can take place. In conjunction with
the above suggestions, Smartroom Learning Solutions advises that instructors using a
response system start their classes by asking three to five questions concerning the
homework to determine if the students did their homework. Smartroom also advises that
while lecturing, instructors ask a couple of questions every 10-15 minutes to see if the
students understand the material and to keep the students interested (Smartroom, 2004).
Another study found at the eInstruction website, obtained from the physics department of
Eindhoven University of Technology, suggests a format of asking four various types of
questions. The first is exploration, which involves gathering the opinions of students. For
example, the instructor would ask “Have you understood my arguments regarding this
equation?” The second type is a form of verification that allows the instructor to see the level of
student understanding of a concept. This includes a question like, "Does this apply to high
temperatures?” A third form of questioning aims at the student’s ability to apply something he
or she learned to a new situation. This involves a multiple choice question for which the student
has to decide on the correct equation to use and hence find a solution. The fourth type of
question such as “Are you ready for me to continue my lecture?” helps the instructor to know
when he or she can move on to a different topic (Poulis, Massen, Robens, & Gilbert, 2001).
Articles of others who have used these devices include Dr. Rick Groseberg, Professor of
Evolutionary Biology & Ecology at the University of Colorado. He once presented at a
conference in which there were 400 distinguished professors. He wanted to give a “level of
interactivity to the audience.” He had heard of these kinds of systems and was able to borrow
one for use in this lecture. It was an immediate success. The audience loved it and gave “a roar
of applause and whistles as the presentation came to a close.” Several professors in the audience
wanted to know how they could get one of these systems. Dr. Groseberg stated that “This was
such a great way to be engaging without being patronizing.” Even though a Hawthorne- like
effect (the test group performing well because they receive special attention) may have been
present, the response of the audience shows how valuable these systems can be if they are used
correctly (Conference Success with PRS, 2004).
A professor of Chemistry at the University of Cincinnati thought the use of a personal
response system would be a great way to interact with his class. His concern was that he never
knew if his lectures were effective. If he asked the students for their opinion, most would not
even give a response. Using this response system would give the students a level of anonymity
and because the professor could tell who responded, every student had to participate. In
presenting the material to the students, he would ask questions that the students would have to
respond to with their hand held devices. The immediate results were shown and the rest of the
lecture could be modified if needed to help students understand the concepts better. The
personal response system took the guessing (of how students were grasping the material) out of
his class. The comment by the professor was, “I believe the personal response system is an
excellent classroom tool which gives professors feedback as to how effectively students are
learning the classroom materials. I would use it in every class that I teach.” This helps verify
the claims that shy students can feel free to participate without feeling embarrassed (Mack,
One case study was found outside of the traditional school atmosphere in which IBM
studied the use of a classroom response system vs. the use of traditional lecture in its training of
managers. Several instructional sessions of both types were studied to try to find out if the
classroom response system would be a valuable asset to them. The initial trials in a classroom in
which the student response system was tried as a pilot “did stimulate student interest beyond just
the Hawthorn Effect, but it did not make the dramatic differences in the classroom environment
as was predicted. …This was contributed to the fact that the instructors were unfamiliar with
the system, the system was used too infrequently and the questions posed to the students were
almost all multiple choice (Horowitz, 1987).
Based on the results of this pilot classroom, corrections were made according to the
research tips addressed earlier in this paper. Instructors learned to ask questions every 15-20
minutes, used a variety of questions, became better acquainted with the software, and obtained
very positive results. The test scores in the class in which the CPS was used increased up to 27%.
Feedback from a survey from 1 to 7 (7 being a strong vote for the new system) obtained results
of 6.6 showing a strong desire to continue using the CPS. The findings go on to state that the
response system has shown to improve the learning process, but that this concept should also be
explored further (Horowitz, 1987).
Lately, many more schools and universities such as Rutgers, North Dakota State,
University of California, Berkley, Dartmouth, and Harvard are using these hand held devices in
their classrooms (Russell, 2003). Beginning in the spring semester of 2005 at Purdue University
in Indiana, students will be able to buy one response keypad for about 12 dollars. They will be
able to use the keypad in any of the 315 Purdue classrooms that use this type of technology.
According to an article at the eInstruction website, “Purdue has become the first university in the
country to implement a system-wide license for using audience response pads in the classroom.”
Purdue did this “to keep classroom technology convenient, affordable and reliable for students
and faculty” (Russell, 2003).
After considerable searching, very little hard data on these systems could be found. Most
studies suggest an improvement in student performance of some kind, but not all are statistically
significant. Also, all agree that larger long term studies should be undertaken to truly see the
overall effects of these hand held devices. Each study that included questions regarding
participants’ views of the system indicated that students thought their classroom experience was
more enjoyable because of the response systems. These students seemed to pay more attention
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during lectures if questions were asked in periods not to exceed 15 – 20 minutes. Every
indication showed that instructors who use the system have to put a great deal of upfront time
into learning and writing questions for the system, however, they all felt that the real-time
monitoring and feedback made them better presenters.
There are a variety of reports that the instructor can generate from the information
collected from the clickers in class. Some of these reports are very useful to the instructor. The
Instructor Summary can be easily converted to a spreadsheet and the names can be omitted so
that the student’s scores can be quickly displayed with student ID numbers. Another important
report for the instructor is the Item Analysis. This report shows the percentage of students that
answered each choice as well as identifies the correct answer. This type of report quickly shows
the instructor the questions that need to be addressed again for better understanding. A partial
listing of possible reports and what information they included is listed below.
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Various types of reports that can be obtained from the CPS
Instructor Summary A report that shows the students name, student ID, number of
answers correct and attempted, as well as the percent correct.
Study Guide A report that is generated for each student selected and includes
the student’s name, ID, and a list of all of the questions asked
with the correct answer displayed as well as the answer that the
student selected. In this manner, each student could receive
their own individualized study guide. Disadvantage would be
LOTS of paper used.
Study Guide class This report is much shorter, but less detailed. It includes each
summary student’s name, ID, pad number, and only the question number
that the student missed with the correct answer and the answer
that he or she gave.
Question report This includes the question asked, lists the choices with correct
answer, and also lists each student with the answers that he or
she gave for the instructor’s quick reference.
Response Report This only gives the question, choice of answers, correct answer,
and percentage of students who chose each answer.
Item Analysis This only shows the number of each question with the
percentages that the class picked, it also identifies the correct
Item analysis with Same as above only with standard identified at the end.
Opinion survey This only shows the question number as well as the total
number of students choosing each item. Then it shows the
average of the total in the last column. Very handy for a quick
summary of the totals in a survey.
Post report Gives instructor an easy method of printing off results of
information gathered. Information is transferred into a
spreadsheet with choice of student name, ID, pad number, and
student full name. This can be easily printed and posted for
viewing results if names are left off report.
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In an attempt to get the most dependable results possible in this case study, I have decided to
use a popular physics assessment called the Force Concept Inventory (FCI), designed to test
students’ understanding of the most basic concepts in Newtonian physics. The test contains 30
multiple choice conceptual questions that requires no numerical computation. The authors of the
test have designed the multiple choice answers to reflect the common misconceptions student s
have about concepts dealing with forces in physics. The test is designed to be given as a pre-test
and post-test. “Various versions of the multiple-choice test were administered to more than 1000
college students and the validity and reliability were established in different ways.” (Savinainen
& Scott, 2002). The FCI can be used for three main purposes: as a diagnostic tool, for
evaluating instruction, and as a placement exam for future physics courses, although not for an
introductory course (Hestenes, Wells, & Swackhamer, 1992). “The FCI was first developed in
North America and is used as a diagnostic assessment tool at every level of introductory physics
instruction, from high school to university.” It has been determined by the authors of the FCI
that “a score below 60% means that a student has not made the transition to thinking within the
Newtonian paradigm, while a score of 85% means that the student is a Newtonian thinker”
(Savinainen & Scott, 2002).
The authors of the FCI test suggest the following formula to measure the gains of
students from the pre to post FCI test results.
Gain = (post test % - pre test %) / (100 – pre test %)
This is then averaged for the whole class so that a single gain is reported for any given course
(Pearce & Roux, 2001). In an extensive study involving 62 introductory physics courses with
over 6000 students participating, FCI gains were recorded. These courses were broken into two
different delivery modes, 14 traditional courses (in which lecture was the major mode of
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delivery), and 48 courses involving some type of interactive engagement. The average FCI gain
for the traditional courses was 0.23 +/- 0.04 (std dev) and for the interactive-engagement courses,
the average FCI gain was 0.48 +/- 0.14 (std dev) (Pearce & Roux, 2001).
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This pilot test using a classroom response system (CPS) was tested in two introductory
Physics classes consisting of 18 and 24 students. The class of 24 students consisted of seven
girls and 17 boys. The class of 18 consisted of four female students and 14 male students. It
should be noted that in the class of 24, there were two foreign exchange students from Mexico
they both were female and had taken a one semester introductory Physics class in Mexico three
years prior. The rest of the students could be considered White middle to upper class students
who had a background of introductory physical science (which includes one semester of very
basic Physics) in their freshmen year. The math backgrounds of the students range from
Trigonometry to Calculus. However, mathematical calculations were limited in this study and
were not a part of the FCI pretest/posttest used. The career interests of these students also ranged
greatly, from engineering to English to art and theater.
The students are all high school seniors in a Midwest private Catholic high school.
Students meet on a block schedule in which classes are held for 90 minutes every other day. The
classroom was a large science class designed for Physics with movable student tables in which
students sit two to a table. The room has media capabilities to support the CPS system in terms
of a LCD projector, a computer, and a pull down screen in front of the classroom.
The first nine weeks of the school year resulted in a trial period in which the students in
the instructor’s freshman Physical Science classes were given an opportunity to use the response
system so that the instructor could get used to using the software and so that the bugs could be
worked out of the system without any significant data being collected for those classes. This was
a direct result of the research which suggested the instructor have a time of getting used to the
software before any significant progress could be determined.
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During the start of the second nine weeks, students in the two introductory Physics
classes were given the FCI as a pretest just before the topics of Newtonian dynamics were
studied. Students were introduced to the clickers several weeks earlier, but only used them
briefly to familiarize themselves to the system. The two Physics classes were split such that one
class used the response system and one class did not. This was decided, in part, by the overall
class averages of each Physics class. The test group with 24 students had an overall class
average of 85.5% and was 1.5% lower than the smaller class for the first nine weeks. The class
with the 18 students had an overall class average of 87% for the first nine weeks. Perhaps this
lower percentage was due to the larger class having fewer opportunities for feedback and
questioning? Neither class used the clickers during the first nine week period. The lowest class
average (24 students) was assigned the classroom response system to use in the study of
Newtonian dynamics. The smaller size, higher average class was used as the control group and
did not get to use the devices. It was thought that the larger class with the lower average could
benefit more from the CPS system because of the more frequent feedback that would be
The group of students that used the CPS system was assigned keypad numbers based on
the alphabetical order of their last name. After four and a half weeks of using the response
system, (the minimum time needed to cover the concepts on the FCI), the FCI was given for a
second time to see which of the two groups had the larger increase. Note, the response system
was used to take the FCI both times for the larger class and a ScantronT M format was used in the
smaller control class.
There was an effort on the part of the instructor to eliminate as many variables between
the control group and the test group as possible with the exception of the use of the CPS system.
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The same questions were asked in both classes, but the control group answered the questions
with the traditional paper and pencil and the results were graded and given back the next class
period, or students graded the assignment immediately after all the students had finished
answering the questions. There was an effort to ask at least 10 multiple-choice, true/false or
yes/no questions each day, with minimal mathematical calculations required. The distracters that
were used in these questions tried to focus on misconceptions, wrong units, or the conceptually
impossible. These were determined by using several years of questions from an “experienced”
In the test group, the questions were projected on the large screen in front of the room
with the possible answers to the questions. There was an effort to use pause time so that students
could have time to read and formulate answers before the students were allowed to answer with
their keypads. Then a decision to move into a new concept or discuss the concept more was
determined from the results shown on screen. If a large number of students missed the question,
(not an exact number, but around four or less students) the instructor moved on to the next
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The complete results of the pre-test and post-test FCI scores along with the calculated
FCI gains are included in Appendix A. For the class that used the clickers, a very respectable
FCI gain of 0.44 +/- 0.16 (std dev) was obtained. This is very similar to the 0.48 +/- 0.14 (std
dev) results found in the research for an interactive-engagement class. However, the control
group fell just shy of these results too. The control class had an FCI gain of 0.38 +/- 0.21 (std
dev). The chart FCI Gain shows that the class that was using the response devices consistently
had results that were higher than the control group, but a two tailed t test showed the results were
not statistically significant. Results were t(39) = 1.02, p>0.5, not significant. Because of the
short time that the CPS was used in the Physics classroom and the students’ new exciting lecture
format, there could have been some Hawthorn effect. (Meaning some short term benefits
associated with the new technology and the special attention that may have been given to the test
group.) Also, a possible explanation for the larger gain in the control group may have come
from a lesser known effect called the John Henry effect. This is where the control group has a
desire to compete against the test group. However, as instructors and students continue to use
these types of response systems, these possible effects should decrease.
It is also possible that the instructor had a tendency “to teach to the test”. However, the
instructor did not purposely do anything to allow this to happen. The only change in the method
of teaching that resulted was less emphasis on mathematical calculations in solving problems and
more emphasis on the conceptual aspects of the physics concepts. After the study was
completed, the instructor was able to see the specific weaknesses in both sets of student
understanding in the introductory physics concepts.
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Data table for the FCI gains of both the clicker group and the control group
FCI pre- FCI post- FCI Gain FCI pre- post- Gain
test test clicker test no test no control
clickers clickers group clickers clickers group
13 26 0.77 10 25 0.75
4 22 0.69 16 25 0.64
9 23 0.67 5 20 0.60
6 21 0.63 11 22 0.57
14 23 0.57 10 21 0.55
9 21 0.57 9 20 0.53
5 19 0.55 11 20 0.48
12 22 0.55 9 18 0.43
11 21 0.52 11 18 0.37
8 19 0.49 10 17 0.36
8 15 0.47 13 19 0.35
4 16 0.46 10 16 0.30
5 16 0.43 6 13 0.29
4 11 0.37 15 18 0.20
5 14 0.36 8 12 0.18
11 17 0.32 9 12 0.14
3 11 0.30 6 8 0.09
6 13 0.29 9 8 -0.04
9 15 0.29
6 12 0.25
6 12 0.25
12 16 0.22
8 12 0.18
Score 7.7 17.26 0.44 9.9 17.33 0.38
SDV 3.22 4.47 0.17 2.85 5.03 0.21
Median 8 16 0.46 10 18 0.37
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FCI Gain clicker group
0.9 FCI Gain control group
FCI gain value
-0.1 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25
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Comments that the students gave on the clicker survey were very positive. Out of the 20
students that took the survey, 19 felt they gained more from the lectures and felt more involved
in the classroom because of the use of these response devices. Thirteen of the 20 students
reported that the clickers made them pay more attention in class. Sixteen of the 20 students said
that it was helpful seeing the histograms after each question was asked. Only one student gave a
negative response to the use of clickers in the classroom, but this student did not give any
comment as to why the student did not like the using the clickers. This same student also was
the only one who did not feel that it was helpful discussing the wrong questions, nor that the
clickers were helpful in learning the material. The students in general, did not have a strong
opinion for or against using the clickers for the whole lecture. All of the students surveyed
agreed that they liked the anonymous respons of the clickers. Most of the students felt that the
questions that were asked during the time that they used the clickers were neither too difficult
nor too simple.
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In conclusion, the pre-post FCI test did appear to favor the CPS group. However, this
increase was not statistically significant. It appears to the instructor that the CPS made the
students more excited about the learning process by allowing the students to participate in the
lectures, see immediately misconceptions, and allow all student to participate in c lass. The
survey of the CPS verified that students enjoy using the system and that the students feel they
benefit more in class by using them. Allowing all students to participate in class discussions and
allowing them to see the immediate feedback seems to be the major benefit for using the CPS.
Because of the anonymity of the CPS, even the shy or hesitant students can interact without
feeling intimidated. Because this was only one pilot study used in relatively small classes for a
very short period of time, further study needs to be performed before any conclusive findings can
be stated. With increased usage, instructors will find better ways to benefit students by asking
better questions, adding questions, or creating other innovative uses. The fact that the
instructor’s questions can be saved, analyzed and improved on from year to year allows for the
possibility of increased student performance.
For those classrooms that already have a computer and an LCD projector, the CPS is a
relatively inexpensive way to insure that all students are participating in class, gaining active
feedback in real-time and increase instructor’s knowledge of classroom performance, get papers
graded and back to students quickly, and provide a fun review for tests. This technology shows
promise and should be a serious consideration for future purchases in all classrooms.
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Brocklebank, J. (2000, January 5). Who wants to be a millionaire format for engineering
students. Daily Mall. Retrieved September 17, 2004 form
Burnstein, R. & Lederman, L. M. (2001). Using wireless keypads in lecture classes. The Physics
Teacher, 39, 8-11.
Duke University, Arts & Sciences and Trinity College. (2003). Classrooms personal response
systems. Retrieved September 3, 2004 from
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A Listing of Pros and Cons of the Classroom Response System
Each student must participate Students may be able to see the buttons that
other students are pushing
Roll can easily be taken in large classes If questions are discussed while the quiz is
taken, the quiz takes much longer to
Instructor can easily see answers of entire With this particular system, data was not
class easily transferred over the network
Results can instantly be posted for tests or Hardware/software trouble could cause
Students can answer anonymously The instructor is forced to spend a large
amount of time thinking up good questions
each time the clickers are used to be sure
that results are effective.
Students get instant feedback as to the Higher level questions can not be given
Instructor can re teach or review concepts It takes some time for instructor to
immediately when necessary effectively learn how to use the system
Questions can be saved, revised and used An additional cost for the system could be
easily year after year great, especially if LCD projector and/or
computer has not been previously
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Questionnaire (and students’ responses) for the Classroom Perfo rmance System
(Clickers) in the Physics Classroom
Strongly Moderately No Moderately Strongly
Agree Agree Opinion Disagree Disagree
1. The use of the clickers helps me get more out of the lectures?
5 4 3 2 1 avg. – 4.3
2. I feel mo re involved in the clas sroom with the use of the clickers?
5 4 3 2 1 avg. – 4.6
3. The use of the clickers helps me pay attention more in lectures?
5 4 3 2 1 avg. – 4.1
4. It is helpfu l seeing the histogram of the class responses displayed on the screen after each ques tion.
5 4 3 2 1 avg. – 4.2
5. I gain confidence when I correct ly respond to the questions that employ the clickers.
5 4 3 2 1 avg. – 4.2
6. I find it helpful when Mr. Newport discusses the wrong answers as well as the right answers to the questions
with the clickers?
5 4 3 2 1 avg. – 4.6
7. The whole lecture should be given as a series of clicker questions and discussions.
5 4 3 2 1 avg. – 3.2
8. When using the clickers, the questions that are asked are too simple and a waste of time.
5 4 3 2 1 avg. – 2.2
9. When using the clickers, the questions that are asked are too difficu lt and a waste of time.
5 4 3 2 1 avg. – 2.3
10. I would p refer that Mr. Newport not use the clickers in class, they are too distracting.
5 4 3 2 1 avg. – 1.6
11. I like the idea that the clickers are anonymous.
5 4 3 2 1 avg. – 4.4
12. I feel that the strengths of the clickers are:
The students felt that the strengths of the clickers were as follows:
They force everyone to participate not just the ones that were called on
The results are instant
I seem to learn and remember more
More questions can be asked in a shorter time
It helps to know if you are understanding the concepts correctly
It makes the class more interesting
It gives the class more immediate feedback
It helps us find our own weakness
Lets the class interact with the discussions
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13. I feel that the weaknesses of the clickers are:
The students felt that the weakness of the clickers were as follows:
That is all we do, it’s the same clicker/discussion everyday
Sometimes it is hard to get them to register (the response)
Limits the typed of questions (used in lecture)
People that do not know the answers can guess or watch other clickers (for the answer)
Some questions are confusing
When using them for tests (or quizzes) I can punch in the wrong answer because I was
not sure what question I was on
I have trouble reading the questions on the overhead (screen)
If I do not write something down, it is harder to remember
I can’t think of any weakness
Students could mess up on an answer
Sometimes the time limit is too short
They waste too much time
14. Co mments/Suggestions:
Thank you for co mpleting this survey for me. I appreciate your honesty.
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Student Permission Form
Dear Parents of Students of Mr. Brian Newport’s Science Classes,
As part of their science class, your son/daughter has been invited to participate in a research
project called The Effects of a Classroom Response System in the Science Classroom conducted
by Brian Newport for his Master’s Project at Emporia State University. The goal of this project
is to improve the ability of all students to understand science concepts by becoming more active
participants in lecture and gathering immediate student feedback to questions presented by the
instructor. This is accomplished by each student using a handheld device to submit answers that
are posted anonymously in a classroom chart. Students and instructor can then see correct
answers immediately know how many students in class understood the concepts and how many
did not understand. Thus the instructor can assess the entire class at one time.
Your permission for your son/daughter to participate in this project means that during the
duration of this semester, data from your son or daughter’s work will be collected for research.
Participation is voluntary and involves no unusual risks. Your son/daughter can refuse to
participate or withdraw from the project at any time with no negative consequences to his or her
grades. All students’ data will be kept confidential; all personal data will be removed from all
written documentation and assigned an identification number. Even if you agree to participate
by signing this form, you can change your mind at any time.
If you have any questions about this study, you may contact Brian Newport at 634 – 0315 ext
227 or by e- mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My signature below indicates that I give permission for my son/daughter,
(If the student is age 18 or above, please indicate below.)
__________________________________ to participate in the study.
Parent Signature Date
Student signature if over the age of 18 Date
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Specifications of the CPS System From eInstruction