Teaching with Clickers

What is a clicker?

A clicker is a tool used to promote active learning. The clicker using at the HKUST is called Personal Response System (PRS). Using the clicker, students in a classroom or a lecture theatre can respond to questions posed by the instructors with the click of a button, all at the same time. This provides a means:

  • for the instructor to instantly assess students' understanding of the subject matter;
  • for the instructor to collect instant feedback from every one of his/her students;
  • for students to participate actively in class.

Key features

  • It is affordable - the cost per user is no more than that of a typical paperback textbook.
  • It is time saving - it can be installed and is ready for use in minutes.
  • It is easy to use - the operators and users can learn the operations in minutes.
  • It is scalable - adding new users is easy and economical; the network can start with a small number of users then expand to cover the entire student population on campus by simply adding the corresponding numbers of transmitters and receivers.
  • It is secure - the ID in the transmitter can be changed only with the use of an ID changing adapter.
  • It is portable - the wireless transmitters and receivers are pocket-sized and, in an educational circumstance, students can be equipped with their own ID-coded transmitters for the use in any classroom.
  • It is a learning tool - its simplicity makes it useful in all levels of education from primary to tertiary.
  • It is a teaching tool - it helps create a class seating chart on line, it facilitates the administration of quizzes, tests and polling, it permits the attachment of a confidence level (high, medium, and low) to the answer sent.
  • It has two modes of operation - they are the Known mode in which all ID-tagged responses are recorded, and the Anonymous mode in which they are not.
  • It has two modes of display - they are the full-screen mode, which shows the largest possible image of signals received, and for the result histograms, and the half-screen mode leaves half of the screen for the question or instruction to be responded to.
  • Extensive classroom testing and the use of well established IR technology have led to this simple and functional system, which is robust and sufficiently low-cost to make it affordable for all students to own their personal transmitters for the use in any classroom. Hence, PRS could become a universal learning tool in our classrooms.

Why use clickers in your teaching?

Clickers can make a real difference in your teaching. Clickers are for you if you want:

  • your students to pay attention to what you say in class;
  • 100% participation in question-and-answer sessions;
  • immediate feedback and reinforcement;
  • automatic attendance check;
  • automatic recording of student answers;
  • a lesson to be reasonably understood before going to the next one;
  • test or quiz results to be prompt, with automatic grading;
  • shy and disadvantaged students to be proactive;
  • students' opinions and preferences to be instant;
  • continuous monitoring of students' progresses, both individually and as a group;
  • to encourage peer instruction in your lectures.