Classroom response systems, or “clickers,” are instructional technologies that enable teachers to rapidly collect and analyze students’ responses to multiple-choice and free-response questions during class. I am interested in helping college and university instructors explore types of questions and activities that take advantage of these technologies to productively transform the way they use class time. To that end, I’ve listed below a number of resources relevant to teaching with classroom response systems.

General Resources

  • My book, Teaching with Classroom Response Systems: Creating Active Learning Environments (Jossey-Bass, 2009), features example clicker questions and activities from almost 50 instructors from a wide variety of disciplines and types of institutions, as well as advice for using clickers to generate class-wide and small-group discussion, to prepare students to get more out of lectures, to conduct classroom games, to administer quizzes and tests, and to generate feedback on student learning useful for instructors and students.  Chapter 1 is available as a PDF. I’ve been interviewed about the book by Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education. See below for the table of contents, discipline index, and reviews.
  • For a shorter introduction to teaching with clickers, see my contribution to the 2010 POD Network Essays on Teaching Excellence, “Multiple-Choice Questions You Wouldn’t Put on a Test: Promoting Deep Learning Using Clickers.”
  • I maintain a bibliography of articles on classroom response systems on the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching Web site. Most of the articles present some form of research on the effectiveness or impact of classroom response systems on student learning.
  • Also on the Center for Teaching Web site is a guide to teaching with classroom response systems. It features descriptions of useful types of clicker questions and activities, suggestions for handling a few common challenges involved in teaching with clickers, and information about technical and logistical support for teaching with clickers at Vanderbilt.

Blog Posts

I blog regularly about classroom response systems. To read blog posts about particular uses of clickers, types of clicker questions, and other related topics, click on these links:

Uses of Clickers

Question Types

Other Topics

Teaching with Classroom Response Systems

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – Engaging Students with Clickers

  1. Generating Classwide Discussions
  2. Generating Small-Group Discussions
  3. Creating Times for Telling
  4. Structuring Class Time
  5. Making Class More Fun

Chapter 2 – Assessing Students with Clickers

  1. Uncovering Student Learning
  2. Evaluating Student Learning

Chapter 3 – A Taxonomy of Clicker Questions

  1. Content Questions
  2. Process Questions

Chapter 4 – Teaching Choices

  1. Use of Class Time
  2. Writing Questions
  3. Student Response, Participation, and Grading
  4. Classroom Choices
  5. Small Classes

Chapter 5 – Technical and Logistical Choices

  1. Technical Challenges
  2. Vendor Selection and Adoption
  3. Supporting and Promoting the Use of Clickers
  4. Low-Tech Options
  5. High-Tech Options

Chapter 6 – Why Use Clickers?

  1. Increased Student Participation
  2. Increased Student Engagement
  3. Frequent Feedback on Student Learning
  4. Final Suggestions

Comments on the Book

Eric Mazur, Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, Harvard University, author of Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual:

A must-read for anyone interested in interactive teaching and the use of clickers. This book draws on the experiences of countless instructors across a wide range of disciplines to provide both novice and experienced teachers with practical advice on how to make classes more fun and more effective.

Linda Nilson, Director, Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation, Clemson University, author of Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors and The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course:

No other available resource on teaching with clickers rivals Bruff’s amazingly thorough treatment.  Not only does he explain the many ways instructors can use them to enhance student engagement and learning, but he also provides invaluable advice on writing productive multiple-choice questions (many samples provided), responding to different clicker results, and balancing clicker use with content coverage.

Jim Julius, Associate Director, Instructional Technology Services, San Diego State University:

Dr. Bruff’s thoughtful description of effective practices with clickers, based on numerous interviews with higher education instructors, both reinforces and extends the knowledge base on response system use in higher education. The emphasis on pedagogical approaches will make this book useful and relevant for years to come, even as the technologies themselves evolve. In fact, as small wireless devices become ubiquitous, this book will only grow in importance.

Gardner Campbell; Director, Academy for Teaching and Learning; Associate Professor of Literature, Media, and Learning, Honors College; Baylor University:

Those who come to this book needing practical advice on using “clickers” in the classroom will be richly rewarded: with case studies, a refreshing historical perspective, and much pedagogical ingenuity. Those who seek a deep, thoughtful examination of strategies for active learning will find that here as well—in abundance. Dr. Bruff achieves a marvelous synthesis of the pragmatic and the philosophical that will be useful far beyond the life span of any single technology.

Jann E. Freed, Professor of Management and the Mark and Key De Cook Endowed Chair in Leadership and Character Development, Central College, and co-author of Learner-Centered Assessment on College Campuses, in a review in the Winter 2010 issue of The Review of Higher Education:

Bruff convinces me that there are several advantages in using this technology… If the focus of classroom response systems remains on creating active learning environments, then Derek Bruff’s book adds to the on-going conversation about engaging students in their own learning.

Mark Rohland, Academic Advisor at Temple University, in a review the NACADA Journal, 30(1):

This book convincingly demonstrates that clicker technology allows teachers and students to adapt quickly to emerging learning needs…  Bruff’s work is an enthusiastic, accessible, and detailed introduction for all educators interested in this popular educational technology tool.

Discipline Index

Since many instructors interested in learning about teaching with clickers benefit from hearing how colleagues in their own disciplines use clickers, I’ve put together a discipline index for my book. By looking up your discipline in the index below, you’ll find concrete examples of teaching with clickers from faculty members whom I interviewed for my book, including in some cases example clicker questions.  I hope you find this useful!

Anthropology, 92-93

Astronomy, 16, 21, 49, 94, 118, 148, 158, 204

Biological Sciences, 10-11, 33, 66, 114, 124-125, 147, 187, 198

Chemistry, 21, 27-29, 52, 54-55, 73, 79-80, 84, 90, 104-105, 113, 114, 115-116, 118, 127, 129, 132, 147, 148, 157, 201

Communication Studies, 6-8

Earth & Environmental Sciences, 40-41, 44-45, 118, 129-130, 136, 187, 201-202, 204

Economics, 35, 112

Engineering, 52, 68, 120

English, 67, 84, 86-88, 198

Health Sciences, 41, 63-64, 73, 86, 101-102, 109-110, 129, 139, 163, 197, 201

History, 67-68, 76, 95-96, 99, 140, 198-199

Human & Organizational Development, 47, 67, 100-101, 109, 198

Language Instruction, 11-13, 17-18, 69-70, 203

Law, 80-81, 99-100, 160, 200, 203

Library Science, 82-83, 95

Mathematics, 1-3, 24, 36, 75-76, 83, 84-86, 108, 111-112, 115, 118, 120, 129-130, 133, 158

Nursing, 147

Pharmacy, 91-92

Philosophy, 22, 45-46, 81-82, 92, 119, 127, 137, 141, 148, 202

Physics, 15, 17, 61-62, 78-79, 118, 122-123, 125

Political Science, 42, 159, 199

Psychology, 21, 23, 25, 30-31, 35, 44, 89, 97, 110-111, 115, 116-117, 129-130, 139, 140, 149, 189-191, 198, 200

Sociology, 107

Veterinary Medicine, 18-20, 79, 190-191

Teaching Mathematics with Clickers

  • Teaching Mathematics with Classroom Voting: With and Without Clickers (MAA, 2011) features a variety of examples of the use of “classroom voting” in math courses. The book was edited by Carroll College’s Kelly Cline and Holly Zullo, and includes a chapter from me on teaching statistics with clickers.
  • Project MathQUEST / Project MathVote is an NSF-funded initiative that has developed and collected sets of clicker questions useful in most undergraduate math courses. All these question banks are available from their website. I’m participating in the latest iteration of this project as an external evaluator.
  • During the 2010 Joint Mathematics Meetings, I co-facilitated two sessions on teaching with clickers. One was a contributed paper session, and you can find slides from 11 of those presentations here. The other was a four-hour minicourse  I led with Adam Lucas; our minicourse slides are available here.
  • Here’s a PDF containing clicker questions for use in a statistics course. I wrote and used this for an introduction to probably and statistics course I taught in 2008. The questions are organized according to the sections in Navidi’s Statistics for Engineers and Scientists. Each question includes a little commentary on that question’s answer. Please let me know if you have questions about these clicker questions or if you find them useful in your courses.