What’s a Student Response System? And Why Do Instructors Use It?

In our never-ending push to provide the best and most relevant services to LSA students and faculty, LSA-ISS is looking into possible new student response systems to supplement iClicker, and we would like your input!

Student Response Systems like iClicker are very common in large courses where it can be challenging or time consuming to get a formative assessment of student learning. A Student Response System can be used to quiz, to engage, and to inspire discussion, with hundreds of students getting a chance to push the limits of their understanding and grapple with content. iClicker is used by around 400 instructors at the University of Michigan. The ubiquitous clickers are cheap, durable, reliable, and relatively easy to use in class—and for most classes, it is easy to sync grades to Canvas.

From a practical and logistical standpoint, LSA-ISS is very aware of how important iClickers have become at the University. There are many courses that are entirely built around the remotes, due to their ability to engage students and assess their understanding of concepts in a quick, relatively simple, and reliable manner. We recognize the need to continue to support iClicker as long as it remains useful in courses. However, at ISS we also hear from instructors and students who are interested in online tools that work with students’ phones, tablets, or laptops. There are a lot of options out there, and every single one of them has a different set of tradeoffs and compromises regarding their design and implementation. Below, we will be asking about your experiences, and your needs. We want your input as we explore new options!

We Need Your Help to Gather Information

LSA-ISS is constantly exploring new technologies to help instructors, and student response systems are no exception! There are quite a few online student response systems options to consider, and we have been hearing more and more from instructors inquiring, if LSA has licenses for any of these technologies. Online student response systems offer a variety of new functionalities and options over physical remotes like iClicker. However, it may not make sense to use one college-wide.

ISS staff are already looking into logistical issues around student devices (accessibility, compatibility, and maintenance), the added complexity of online accounts, subscriptions, and Canvas integration. There are also questions around scalability and sustainability with new startup companies. To fully support another student response system, ISS will need to develop a new set of instructional techniques to help instructors take advantage of the new functionalities. Another major issue is the presentation interface. Many of the web or app based systems require finicky plugins to work with PowerPoint and may not work with Keynote or Google Slides at all. Some products require the slides to be uploaded into the cloud and do not allow for slide animations or video (they convert the slides to image files that instructors can no longer edit unless they re-create and upload the slide from scratch).  All of which make those products significantly less appealing.

As much as we have already thought about many aspects of student response system options, we would like feedback about your needs and your experiences. Have you been using or supporting iClicker? What do you think its limitations are? What are its strengths and weaknesses? If you are not using iClicker, what tool

are you using? Why did you choose it, and what are that particular student response system’s strengths and weaknesses? We want to hear from you! ISS has created a short survey for your input to help us learn more about your experiences and your instructional needs.The survey, “Student Response Systems Survey (2017),” should take less than 10 minutes to complete. This survey is open to any instructors or staff from UM that use iClicker or other student response systems. Please try to respond by July 31st!

Information from the survey will help ISS do a better job supporting instructors’ pedagogical and operational requirements when they use these technologies. We look forward to receiving your response!

Take the survey now! Student Response Systems Survey (2017).



PHOTO CREDIT: American Phytopathological Society Study on Personal Response Systems in Classes.