Monday, 3 July 2017

Student response systems

While I am sure that many of my US colleagues will know all about student response systems (SRSs), they are not that common here in New Zealand. Some of our larger Unis may use them for first year classes, but, as far as I am aware, they aren't widely used in the Polytechnic sector.

Sometimes called 'clickers', an SRS is something that you use to vote on an option when in a large seating space. The lecturer/compère will ask you to vote, and you select the option you feel is correct. The lecturer/compère gets the voting summary, and reports the outcome. Think Who Wants to be a Millionaire's "Ask the Audience" option, and the compère's role in that.

If a lecturer uses an SRS, it can be integrated into a workshop session in a lecture theatre by using a 'talk to your neighbour' strategy. You show a problem, and first the students load their individual answers in. Then they discuss with their neighbours, and load their shared, agreed answers in. Then the lecturer debriefs the learning and explains the outcomes. Professor Eric Mazur from Harvard was one of the earliest proponents of this type of interactive learning, which can be viewed in action below:

And then Professor Mazur's rationale for how he learned to teach this way here:

One potential SRS solution I am interested in is Socratic, which has a free app for students to pop on their phone. I am hoping that my institution will trial the full package, so we see if it creates more interaction in lecture theatre work.

It should. Fingers crossed.


  • Allen, B. (13 April 2017). Responsive teaching. Retrieved 14 June 2017 from
  • Harvard Magazine (2012). Eric Mazur shows interactive teaching. Retrieved from
  • Mazur, E. (2009). Confessions of a Converted Lecturer (Abridged, 2012). Retrieved from

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