Educator Resource Library: Using response solutions in class

Educator Resource Library: Using response solutions in class

06 Aug 2013        Xorro-Q

Instructor Resources on using student response solutions such as Xorro-Q

Following is a selection of resources gathered from various sources to help educators and instructors in their use of student response solutions and practice in the classroom.


Research articles

Guides & useful links

Articles & Guides

Question Libraries

How this applies to Xorro-Q:  Observations on use of clickers in the classroom ring true of course for using for Xorro-Q. Just remember though, that because browsers are so much richer than the "clickers", you have even greater potential using Xorro-Q for group interactions and for soliciting "rich" responses from your students. And of course, no longer do you need to consider the logistical problem of getting clickers to the students and recovring them afterwards....

The research is emphatic: better learning outcomes arise through involving your students actively during class. The trick is devising excellent teaching questions. Check out some of the following videos for hints on authoring excellent questions....

Video materials

Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at the University of British Columbia has produced a series of excellent videos around effective use of audience response solutions ("clickers"). Following is a selection of these excellent short videos:

Clickers: Students and Teachers Speak

How to Use Clickers Effectively

Anatomy of a Clicker Question

The Research: Do Clickers Help Students Learn?

Explain to Your Students Why You're Using Clickers

Writing Upper Division Clicker Questions

From Questions to Concepts: Interactive Teaching in Physics: A short video showing Eric Mazur (Harvard University) conducting interactive teaching techniques, including clicker questions.

Using Clickers in the Classroom: A nice description of a variety of ways to use clickers in the classroom, by Russell James, University of Georgia.

Podcast: The Art (and Science) of In-Class Questioning via Clickers
This podcast describes some recent studies that highlight how clickers can be used most effectively. By Dr. Stephanie Chasteen, with Eric Mazur of Harvard University, Jenny Knight of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Ed Prather of the University of Arizona.

Research Articles:

Assessment of the Effects of Student Response Systems on Student Learning and Attitudes over a Broad Range of Biology Courses


Audience research and participation using Twitter

Click go the students - click click click

Requiring Participation in Large Classes


Using Clickers to Collect Formative Feedback on Teaching


Peer Instruction: Engaging Students One-on-One, All At Once

Catherine Crouch, Jessica Watkins, Adam Fagen, and Eric Mazur, Research-Based Reform of University Physics, 1(1) (2007).
This is a thorough article that covers techniques of peer instruction, design principles and practices, and lots of data on results.

Clickers in the Large Classroom: Current Research and Best-Practice Tips
Jane Caldwell, CBE—Life Sciences Education, 6(1), pp. 9-20 (2007).
A good review of research on clicker use, particularly in the context of teaching in the life sciences, including a set of guidelines for writing good questions and a list of best-practice tips.

Designing effective questions for classroom response system teaching
Ian Beatty, William Gerace, William Leonard, and Robert Dufresne, American Journal of Physics, Vol. 74(1), pp. 31-39 (2006).
This is a good paper discussing different types of clicker questions and the cognitive processes they can tie into.

Why I like clicker personal response systems
Eric Ribbens, Journal of College Science Teaching, pp. 60-62, Nov. 2007.
One Professor's account of what happened when he started using clickers: "I wandered into clickers expecting them to become another tool in my toolbox. Instead, I’ve found that clickers have somehow taken over my toolbox, rearranged my other tools, and started acting as an expert assistant."

Why Peer Discussion Improves Student Performance on In-Class Concept Questions
Michelle Smith, William Wood, Wendy Adams, Carl Wieman, Jenny Knight, Nancy Guild, and Tin Tin Su, Science, Vol. 323 no. 5910, pp. 122-124 (2009).
When students answer an in-class conceptual question individually using clickers, discuss it with their neighbors, and then revote on the same question, the percentage of correct answers typically increases. To test whether this was truly due to increased understanding, the researchers followed the exercise with an isomorphic question that students answered individually. Their results indicate that peer discussion enhances understanding, even when none of the students in a discussion group originally knows the correct answer.

Experience Report: Peer Instruction in Introductory Computing
Beth Simon, Michael Kohanfars, Jeff Lee, Karen Tamayo, and Quintin Cutts, in Proceedings of the 41st ACM technical symposium on Computer science education Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, March 10 - 13, 2010.
This article describes the process and results of applying the Peer Instruction model with clickers in introductory computing courses, and concludes with observations, advice and suggested improvements.

Listening to student conversations during clicker questions: What you have not heard might surprise you!
Mark James and Shannon Willoughby, American Journal of Physics, Vol. 79(1), pp. 123-132 (2011).
This article reports on an analysis of clicker question discussions during Peer Instruction. They found that only about 40% of the conversations were of the "standard" type where students discuss their opinions relating to the physical attributes posed in a question and submit clicker responses that coincide with individual opinions. They also found that having high stakes (marks for correctness) was actually detrimental to the conversation. See Stephanie Chasteen's blog post for a summary of the paper.

Combining Peer Discussion with Instructor Explanation Increases Student Learning from In-Class Concept Questions
Michelle Smith, William Wood, Ken Krauter, and Jenny Knight, CBE—Life Sciences Education, Vol. 10(1), pp. 55-63 (2011).
This study shows that the combination of peer discussion followed by instructor explanation improved average student performance substantially when compared with either peer discussion or instructor explanation alone. They also found that all ability groups benefited from the combination approach, and that strong performers were not helped by the instructor-only approach, emphasizing the importance of peer discussion even among top-performing students.

Classroom Response System ("Clickers") Bibliography (Vanderbilt Center for Teaching)

A very extensive bibliography on clicker use and research (with links to digitally available papers).

Guides & Useful Links

7 Things You Should Know About Clickers



An instructor's guide to the effective use of personal response systems ("clickers") in teaching Prepared by University of Colorado Science Education Initiative (CU-SEI) and University of British Columbia Science Education Initiative (CWSEI) staff & associates. This guide was written to help instructors use clickers in their classes in the most comfortable and pedagogically effective manner. It includes a section on frequently asked questions about the use of clickers and clicker questions and several good examples of clicker questions.

 Tips for Successful “Clicker” Use by Douglas Duncan, University of Colorado

A nice 2-pager with Practices that lead to Successful Clicker Use and Practices that lead to Failure.

 Tri-Fold: Ready, Set, React! Getting the most out of peer instruction using clickers

by Peter Newbury and Cynthia Heiner, Physics and Astronomy, UBC. A "cheat-sheet" for clicker question choreography.

 Thought Questions: A New Approach to Using Clickers

A 2-pager on a different way to use clickers: the question is open-ended and the voting is on whether the students agree or disagree with other students’ answer and rationale. Prepared by Teresa Foley and Pei-San Tsai, Integrative Physiology Dept., University of Colorado-Boulder.

UBC Clicker Information
Information and advice for instructors on using i>clicker systems in their classrooms at UBC.

CU Clicker Information
Information and advice for instructors on using i>clicker systems in their classrooms at CU.

UK Web Link Directory

A collection of links to education resources for many categories.

Multiple Choice Question Writing Guidance, Brigham Young University Testing Center
Several guides for the creation of good multiple choice questions, including the excellent "How to Prepare Better Multiple-Choice Test Items: Guidelines for University Faculty". Also has guidance documents on writing other types of test questions.

Derek Bruff's Blog: Teaching with Classroom Response Systems
An active Blog "Teaching with Classroom Response Systems: Resources for engaging and assessing students with clickers". Derek teaches math and statistics at Vanderbilt University and has written a book on teaching with classroom response systems

Question Libraries

For libraries of concept questions try out the following sources:

Interactive Learning Toolkit
Developed by Eric Mazur's group, contains "ConcepTest" database for a variety of areas. Registration required (free).

SEI Course Materials system
A growing collection of course materials from the University of Colorado Science Education Initiative (CU-SEI) and the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative (CWSEI). As of March 2012, there are numerous clicker questions for Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology and Geological Sciences, as well as clicker questions in some of the other disciplines.

AAAS Science Assessment page
The assessment items on this website make great clicker questions for middle school through intro university; they are designed to test student understanding and common misconceptions in the earth, life, physical sciences, and the nature of science.

Clicker Questions for use with PhET Interactive Simulations (various science topics)
Browse through this collection of clicker questions by selecting "CQs" for Type. These questions are designed to be used with PhET sims - a collection of free, research-based interactive simulations that can be downloaded or run online, developed by the University of Colorado PhET team.

Astronomy ClassAction Questions and Interactives from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
ClassAction modules consist of astronomy questions and resources designed to encourage student engagement in the classroom. Many questions are permutable, and incorporate animations and images.

Physics Concept Tests from University of Colorado-Boulder Courses
Clicker questions and course materials from a variety of lower division and upper division physics courses at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Physics clicker question sequences from Ohio State University
These clicker question sequences were developed and researched by the Ohio State University Physics Education Research Group. Requires a password, which can be obtained by emailing Lin Ding (

Chemistry ConcepTests from the University of Wisconsin
For General, Organic, Analytical, Inorganic, Physical, and Biochemistry. Also includes explanations on how to use them effectively, and experiences of educators.

Chemistry ConcepTests from Brandeis University
For General Chemistry, created by the Herzfeld Group.

Math and Statistics Questions — resource list from Project MathQUEST at Carroll College, Montana
This website has links to question collections for many college/university level math and statistics courses, as well as other related resources. Project MathQUEST is developing and testing questions for Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, Series, Sequences, and Difference Equations, Multivariable Calculus, Integral Calculus, Differential Calculus, and Precalculus.

*New* Computer Science clicker questions — Peer Instruction 4 CS
Clicker questions for computer science courses created, in most cases, at the University of California, San Diego. Most classes include full lectures (not just isolated clicker questions).