Intentional Tech

Intentional Tech: Principles to Guide the Use of Educational Technology in College Teaching (West Virginia University Press, 2019)

Chalkboards and projectors are familiar tools for most college faculty, but when new technologies become available, instructors aren’t always sure how to integrate them into their teaching in meaningful ways. As faculty interested in supporting student learning survey the changing landscape of technology, determining what’s possible and what’s useful can be challenging.

Arguing that teaching and learning goals should drive instructors’ technology use, not the other way around, Intentional Tech explores seven research-based principles for matching technology to pedagogy. Through stories of creative and effective use of educational technology by faculty and other instructors, author Derek Bruff approaches technology not by asking “How to?” but by posing a more fundamental question: “Why?”

“Derek Bruff is an engaging—and often charming—guide throughout this concise book. The stories he tells keep things moving at a crisp pace and offer pedagogical inspiration. His principles provide a useful framework and establish a clear foundation for his practical advice.”
Peter Felten, coauthor of The Undergraduate Experience: Focusing Institutions on What Matters Most

Intentional Tech is part of the Teaching and Learning in Higher Education series from West Virginia University Press edited by James M. Lang, and is now available from WVU Press and Amazon.

Table of Contents


  1. Times for Telling
  2. Practice and Feedback
  3. Thin Slices of Learning
  4. Knowledge Organizations
  5. Multimodal Assignments
  6. Learning Communities
  7. Authentic Audiences


For more on Intentional Tech, see this blog post or read / listen to some of the press about the book:

Also, here’s a list of technologies mentioned in the book, helpfully compiled by Charles Logan.

Teaching with Classroom Response Systems

Teaching with Classroom Response Systems: Creating Active Learning Environments (Jossey-Bass, 2009)

There is a need in the higher education arena for a book that responds to the need for using technology in a classroom of tech-savvy students. This book is filled with illustrative examples of questions and teaching activities that use classroom response systems (“clickers”) from a variety of disciplines. The book also incorporates results from research on the effectiveness of the technology for teaching. Written for instructional designers and re-designers as well as faculty across disciplines.

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

Teaching with Classroom Response Systems was published in 2009 by Jossey-Bass and is available from Wiley and Amazon. Chapter 1 is available as a PDF, and you can read interviews about the book in Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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.
Linda Nilson, Director Emerita, Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation, Clemson University, author of Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors

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.”

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

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