Computer Information Systems in Education/Chapter 3/Section 1 -- Student Response Systems

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Student Response Systems

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Student response systems or (SRS) can be utilized inside classrooms, lecture halls and/or group gatherings. This is a unique way of getting information quickly and then giving the results as fast as it is received. This new approach to collecting data is growing fast in popularity and with reason. Teachers are looking for new ways to interact with their students. Using an SRS will not only get the students to interact, it will get them more involved with classroom discussions. Most of these systems use Microsoft PowerPoint Presentations to set up the questions the students will answer. The systems usually require a base station, software to run the program, and handheld devices, called "clickers" to answer the questions presented from the teachers. After that is set up, the teacher is ready to go.

The information on SRS or Classroom Response Systems is taken from Vanderbilt University's Center for Teacher. This is to cite the example of an existing CIS. They refer to their system as a Classroom Response Systems or CRS. What is a SRS and how does this work? Let's break it down into steps.

Step 1: A teacher will presents a series of questions using an overhead or an LCD projector, to the students. Step 2: Each student will submit an answer using their handheld device or "clicker". Step 3: The teacher has software on their computer that will analyze the data and show the students response. Step 4: The teacher can then decide where to take the classroom instruction. They may want to discuss each answer as a whole group or break up into smaller groups to discuss the answers. (This is also a great way for the teacher to see what topic(s) the students are comprehending. If the data is low, then they teacher can concentrate on the areas that are needed.)

Student Response Systems (Clickers)

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What sort of questions can used when using the SRS? That's easy, any question you can think of. Derek Bruff from Vanderbilt University leads a webinar series devoted to response systems. In his lesson, "Classroom Response Systems: Teaching with Clickers", Bruff talks about his research and has listed what types of questions teachers can use when using the SRS. Throughout his study he has set up the necessary groundwork needed to be successful in using "clickers". As you can see, the possibilities are ideal for almost any situation. Below are a few videos that demonstrate how clickers and SRS can be used in the classroom.

Why should someone use a SRS?

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The list of examples can be endless. We will look at three main reasons why a SRS should be used within a CIS. First, an SRS will help maintain a student's attention during a lecture. Bruff explains that most people's attention spans from ten to eighteen minutes of passive listening (Bruff 2008). By using the SRS a teacher can use interactive activities throughout their lecture to engage students into participating, thus making sure the students are paying attention. Second, shy students can now voice their answers by using the SRS. Before, they may not have spoken up in class to answer a teacher's question. The SRS will enable them to "speak up" by using their clicker. It's nice because it allows them to remain anonymous to those hard asked questions. It also allows students to answer anonymously to ethical, legal and moral questions (Bruff 2008). Lastly, teachers can adapt to the immediate learning of their students. If the results show that a majority of the students have answered incorrectly, the teacher can revisit a particular topic to make sure they understand the information. If the results show that the students are grasping a concept, then they can move on to another topic (Bruff 2008).

These were just a few examples of why a SRS should be used. But what about the challenges, training, and implementation teachers have in using this system. The challenges they may face can range from back pedaling to revisit a topic or from students forgetting to bring their clickers or having to hand our the clickers at the beginning of class. The wrong answers that students may give will show they may have misconceptions of the material. However, these misconceptions do not reveal what the misconceptions are (Bruff 2008). It's up to the teacher to determine how to fill in the blanks. Training teachers will show them how to use the clickers and how to use the software within their PowerPoint presentations. It's important to practice what you expect from your students. Implementing the software into their presentations will be challenging because it will require more lecture preparation. Bruff explains that is can be a good idea to start small with one or two questions for each class period. This is especially good if the teacher knows where the students will have challenges (Bruff 2008). Not only will they use their normal routine but they will have the added duty of preparing the SRS software for their particular lecture. SRS is not for everyone or even those that want to use it a little, it will take dedication to make this system work to its fullest potential.

Case Study

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When thinking about a SRS you need to think about what goes into it. According to an article written in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, it's a good idea to figure out what the purpose of a SRS is for your classroom or school (Cain and Robinson, 2008). The popular reasons that seem to be across the board is learner engagement, ability to determine whether students are comprehending what is being taught in lectures, formative and summative assessments, and keeping attendance (Cain and Robinson, 2008). Once the system is selected and the software installed it's up to the faculty members to use this system to enhance their teaching. Some teachers are intimidated with the daunting task of learning something new and unfamiliar. If the learning curve proves to be too much for them, they may just abandon the whole system all together (Cain and Robinson, 2008). It's important to find those that are willing to use the system to enhance their teaching. It helps when everyone is on board with the same goal in mind.

Now that the system is in place and the teachers are using it, does this system really produce positive results? When using the clickers, students can answer questions anonymously without fear of being wrong in front of the entire class. Not only will this allow them to answer anonymously but it will keep the students honest in their knowledge of the material. According to an article written by Jeffery R. Stowell and Jason M. Nelson,(Stowell and Nelson, 2007) there is a direct correlation between using clickers and class participation as well as honesty of student feedback. When it comes to class participation the study used raising hands, response cards, and compared those to the clickers. When raising hands were used, it conveys a sense that the students are "getting it" when they really aren't. With the response cards the respondents could easily be influenced by what the class is answering as compared to what they honestly know (Stowell and Nelson, 2007). The clickers will again allow the students to answer without the others knowing what they answered. The participation rates increase with the use of the clickers. The study showed that only 76% of the students participated when raising hands compared to the 100% participation when using the clickers. This creates an avenue of interaction for the students in the classroom. It keeps the interest up and the enjoyment of being part of the classroom discussions. It also lets the teacher know, which has been stated before, where the students fair in the knowledge of the subject at hand (Stowell and Nelson, 2007). Overall the study found that with the increased feedback and participation the overall experience of learning will be an enjoyable one.

To summarize, the SRS will increase student involvement in the classroom but only if the teacher can effectively utilize the tools they are given. A lot of the success will come to the teacher that is consistent with their work and what they expect from their students.

My Plan for a Student Response System

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The plan is for a private college with a student body of approximately 1000 students. The idea is to start small with a single classroom and work our way into other classrooms. The school likes to pride itself with being ahead of the technology curve.


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The project request is for a student response system at a private university with a student body of approximately 1000 students. The idea is to start small with one classroom and eventually move to multiple classrooms. The priority of this SRS will mainly be for attendance, increase interactivity of classroom discussions and quizzes. Studies have shown that SRS tend to keep the interest and attention of the student while in a classroom setting. The resources needed for this project include a computer, software, clickers, SRS receiver, classroom technology like and LCD projector and screen, students, and the instructor. Funding has been set aside for this project with a budget of $8,000. The idea is to go below that line but up to that line if we need it. The project development team consists of the following members. Applications Support Specialist, will keep the computer and software up to current standards. Instructional Media Specialist, will train the instructor(s) and troubleshoot any challenges the instructor(s) may have with the product. They will also let the Application Support Specialist know of any updates that are needed. Vice President of Academic Affairs, will give the okay for purchasing the software and hardware needed for this system. The instructor(s), will administer the use of the system in the classroom as another tool to teach the students and to engage their interest in the subject matter.


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Conduct preliminary investigation- The committee will conduct a study by survey and interviewing other staff and faculty members to see if the original project has any common interest. Since they are the reason teaching exists, it would also be a good idea to talk with students as well to get their opinions as well. The committee would also conduct research to see what other comparable schools are using and how successful they have been using the system. Below is an example of a use case diagram. As explained in Discovery Computers textbook, this diagram shows a basic use of the system. In our case, it shows how both the students and the instructor will utilize this system. To perform a detailed analysis I have come up with three questions that should be asked. 1. Will this system meet the needs of the college? 2. Will this system take attendance and increase student interactivity? 3. Should the students purchase their own clickers or should the school purchase them for the students? User requirements- The school will need to purchase student response software, sixty clickers (start with the upcoming numbered of enrolled students), and the wireless receiver for the clickers. Another option is to use the current computer in the classroom with the software installed or to purchase a new laptop to make the system portable?

Recommend solution- Purchase a SRS.


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After doing extensive research, we decided to purchase a response system from iRespond.

The Hardware- The package includes 120 clickers, 1 base station, user manual, training CD, 4 carrying cases, and classroom software license. The package price is under budget at $4,811.00, with an education discounted included. The estimate is well below our original budget. A laptop will be purchased to make this system portable. The budgeted amount is approximately $1,500.00. The additional number of clickers will allow to use the system in other settings without the particular students being present. It makes the system more versatile and allows it to be used for something other than a conventional classroom setting.

The Software- Microsoft Office will be needed since we need PowerPoint as a base for the questions. The response software will allow the use of PowerPoint to configure the questions into response results.

Additional details of the system- The college will purchase the software and the wireless receiver. The first class of students will not be required to purchase the clickers. The idea is to run this system for a semester and see if the school wants to invest in more of these units. If it all pans out, then the students will be required to purchase the clickers and keep them as an attendance card for their class attendance records.


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Install and test system. If all is running according to plan then move on to the next steps. Train faculty members that will be using this system for the upcoming class. Also train students how to properly use the clickers. Let the upcoming students know they will be required to pay for their own clicker for the class. The cost should be around $40 for their clickers. They will be instructed to hang on to their clickers and bring them daily to class. This will be their attendance taker for the semester as well as used for class discussion and quizzes. If the trial semester goes to plan then more systems will be put into place the upcoming semesters.

Operation, Support, and Security

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Perform maintenance activities will be performed from the media department and information systems department. The key individuals will be the Instructional Media Specialist and the Application Support Specialist. They will also continue support for the faculty and help troubleshoot any issues they have.

Video Examples of how a SRS is used in the classroom

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Vanderbilt University [1]

Southeast Missouri State University [2]

Turning Technologies Classroom Example [3]

Companies that manufacture SRS

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iRespond [4]

Turning Technologies [5]

Smart Tech [6]

eInstruction [7]

Comtec [8]


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Please answer the following questions with the appropriate response

1. SRS will increase student productivity in the classroom. T or F

2. Shy students feel at ease when using the SRS. T or F

3. Teachers use less prep time when using a SRS. T or F

4. Every student's grades will go up because of the SRS. T or F

5. Teachers rarely have to teach the same topic twice. T or F


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Bruff, Derek (2008). Classroom Response Systems ("Clickers"). Vanderbilt University, Center for Teaching. Retrieved March 26, 2009, from

Cain, J. EdD & Robinson, E. PhD (2008). A primer on audience response systems: current applications and future considerations. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 2008, 72 (4) Article 77.

Shelly G., Cashman T., Vermaat, M.. (2007). Discovering computers: A gateway to information. Boston, MA: Thomson Learning, Inc.

Stowell, J.R & Nelson, J.M. (2007). Benefits of Electronic Audience Response Systems of Student Participation, Learning, and Emotion. Teaching of Psychology, Autum 2007 Vol. 34 Issue 4, p253-258.