Student Response Systems Intrigue

Posted by Matt Berringer on December 10, 2013

By Dr. Ramiro Zuniga
I am often approached by sales representatives lauding their wares, but rarely do I walk away intrigued. In most cases, I understand the nature of the product and quickly determine its value. In this case, I am speaking of a student response system (SRS). This particular SRS is quite different than most on the market, although it has been around for as many years as its competitors.

Standard Student Response Systems

A typical SRS is comprised of handheld clickers and software that manages responses. When using an SRS, a teacher will deliver instruction on a specific topic. The teacher can then prompt students with questions along with multiple answers to select from. Students are then asked to press a corresponding key on the clicker. The responses are grouped together and displayed on a screen for the teacher to view. From this information, a teacher can see if the students are understanding the instruction and adjust as needed. In addition, a teacher can run reports for additional analysis at a later time.

Marketed benefits include:

  • Instant response from students
  • Immediate understanding of feedback by teacher
  • Report generation
  • Student engagement
  • Can be used with multiple subjects
  • Utilizes state-of-the-art technology

Marker Board Response System

The SRS that caught my attention consisted of page-sized marker boards, dry erasers, and non-permanent markers. Similar to the previous SRS, the teacher presents instruction on a particular topic and then prompts students with questions. One difference is that the teacher does not provide any answers for the students to choose from. Instead, the students write or draw the answer on their individual marker board and hold it up for the teacher to see. As with the previous SRS, the teacher assesses the answers and adjusts instruction as needed.

Marketed benefits include:

  • Instant response from students
  • Deeper understanding of feedback by teacher
  • Student engagement
  • Can be used with multiple subjects
  • Low cost
  • System can be used by different groups concurrently
  • No mechanical failure

I have always believed that the best technology is the one that works for each individual. I know both types of systems have merit and are being used by educators across the country. I also know that these systems are successful when used with different grade levels. I am not suggesting that one type of system is better than the other.

It is not often that I “buy,” a sales pitch, but I have in the case of the marker board response system. Let me be clear. I was intrigued by the value of the product and not the sales presentation in and of itself. Even though this system is not state-of-the-art technology, it is easy to understand why it is effective.

I would be very interested if anyone reading this blog has experience with either system or both. If so, please share your thoughts.

Topics: Formative Assessments, technology, education, 21st-Century Learner