University of California, Riverside


Best Practices

Why use Clickers?

  • To create a more active and participative learning environment, especially in large classrooms. Clickers enable students in every size class to participate by expressing their opinion or demonstrating their understanding of the subject matter.
  • To quickly and efficiently quiz students on their knowledge of the material delivered via lecture or from reading assignments.
  • To routinely take class attendance, especially in large classrooms where “manual” attendance taking is not practical.
  • To make lectures more fun! The common theme through UCR’s four quarter Clicker pilot was that students genuinely enjoyed the interaction brought about by use of the Clickers in their class.
  • To enhance retention. More interactivity leads to better retention.
  • To assist in making decisions on when to modify lecture materials based on gaining a better understanding of what students are “getting” and what they aren’t.

Using Clickers as a Polling Device

  • Decide on the purpose of the poll. Is it a pre-assessment, in-progress assessment, or a final assessment?
  • The poll should be on a specific learning objective or concept.
  • Address the poll to critical material. If it is important enough to present to the students, it is important enough to make it highly relevant. Focus on important learning not trivial learning. Ask higher level questions.
  • Keep the text simple. Avoid negative or long questions or statements.
  • Keep the number of answers to five or fewer.
  • Share the results with the class. Discuss both correct and incorrect answers. Explain why an answer is incorrect not just the correct answer.
  • If you use the poll for class improvement, provide new strategies for the students to overcome learning gaps in the poll results. Be careful to provide a 'different'' approach that what was initially presented. Maybe repeat the question in a think-pair-share process.
  • If a threshold number of students do not understand the answer to the question, do you repeat. What is the threshold for repeating a question? 50% getting it right or 80%?

Classroom Tips for Instructors using Clickers

What to tell your students about Clickers

Inform students of the technical limitations of the clickers, to ensure that their answers are successfully and efficiently recorded. Some technical limitations are as follows:

  • Clickers have a 2 second time-out following an unsuccessful attempt to submit an answer (this prevents the receiver from being overloaded). If the student presses a button and the LED on the clicker does not change from red to green, he/she must wait two seconds before attempting to submit the answer again. Continual pressing of the button will simply result in the student’s answer not being recorded.
  • The receiver system has a 7 second time-out following a successful submission. Students who wish to change their answer after a successful submission (where the LED on the clicker turns from red to green) must wait for seven seconds to successfully submit a different answer.

Important Considerations for Instructors Regarding Clickers

Allow sufficient time for students to answer questions, based on the technical limitations noted above. Some general guidelines:

  • Classes of less than 30 students: 15 seconds or more per question.
  • Classes of 30 to 100 students: 30 seconds or more per question.
  • Classes of more than 100 students: 1 minute or more per question.

Because of inherent limitations of the infrared technology used by the clickers, it is likely in large classes that a small number of students will occasionally not have their answers recorded. The clicker provides an LED feedback mechanism to inform students of whether or not their answer was received. You should develop and state a policy for handling these potential errors. One suggested policy is to require students whose answers are not received to speak with you on the day the error occurs in order to receive credit for participating in the exercise.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Computer Support Group
Computing & Communications Bldg.

Tel: (951) 827-3555
Fax: (951) 827-4541