Teaching and Learning Redesign


Increase engagement, check student understanding and stimulate discussion.
The use of Classroom Response Systems have been shown to promote student engagement in class and learning outcomes both inside and outside the classroom. They can be used in large classes to promote active learning by giving students the opportunity to check their knowledge and get real time feedback. Classroom response activities can be used to trigger discussions and are particularly effective when students are able to engage in peer learning by discussing questions with classmates.


Pose a question or idea

Pose a question or idea.

Students respond with an electronic device

Students respond with an electronic device.

See and record results instantly

See and record results instantly!

Display results to promote discussion and activity

Display results to promote discussion and activity.

How can Classroom Response Systems help improve student learning?

  • increasing opportunities for instructors and students to get prompt feedback on how well important concepts are being understood
  • facilitating increased interaction between instructors and students and encouraging peer discussion
  • facilitating the shift in instruction to more active learning strategies

Ideas for using Classroom Response Systems

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The CRS can be used simply to take attendance. Or, because it collects information on individual student responses, it tracks attendance and engagement automatically and this data can be used to assign grades. . Often, instructors will give a participation mark that is part of a student’s overall grade based on their participation in these activities. Studies show that including a participation grade of 5% was sufficient to generate significant improvements in attendance.

At UBC, the individual student answers can be linked to to the gradebook in Connect. Instructors sometimes use a series of CRS questions to administer a short quiz at the beginning of class to check if students did the assigned reading or watched the flipped class videos.

CRS are most-used to prompt thinking and discussion. After students have been given time to think individually about a question and then commit to an answer, they are more likely to participate in discussions where reasons for those answers can be articulated. Questions that don’t have a clear right answer or that bring to the surface common misconceptions can be effective for triggering discussion. A diversity of responses creates a sense of curiosity and promotes an increased desire to discuss the issue or listen to an explanation.

CRS can be use to take a quick poll to get a sense of students’ views on a particular topic or find out what the general experience is with a certain topic. This enables instructors to tailor their delivery and lesson plan on the fly to better suit students existing views and understanding.

CRS questions can be used to target areas within a particular domain that are known to cause student difficulty in understanding. These activities can help students to acknowledge their own misconceptions and allow instructors to assess whether there are continuing gaps in understanding so they can be addressed.

Instructors can use response systems to gauge students’ understanding of concepts at the beginning of class and then again at the end of class to understand how much their understanding has improved over the course of a lesson and where there are still gaps. This strategy can be extended to the evaluation of learning over a full unit or course.

CRS are often associated with a non-traditional pedagogy emphasizing peer instruction. Proponents of peer instruction maintain that students learn better when they are forced to discover solutions in small groups on their own. A typical pattern is: a) first, students are presented with a question and respond individually, b) after responding, students discuss the question in small groups and defend their answer, and c) finally, students answer the question again. The hope is that more students will submit the correct answer the second time around after they have had a chance to listen to each others’ reasons for different answers. Depending on the results, the instructor can then lead a larger class discussion or provide further explanation or iterate the peer instruction again.

Interested? Want to learn more about Classroom Response Systems?

Quick Guide Download

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CRS Ideas and Strategies

Check out our Ideas and Strategies for more information on how to use CRS

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