William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning


What is a Clicker?

A clicker, also called a personal response device, allows each student to “vote” with an answer to a multiple choice question posed during class. Clicker systems also allow the instructor to quickly summarize and react to student votes, and most allow points to be assigned based on either participation or correct answers. Electronic clicker response systems have been in Michigan Tech classes as a pedagogical tool for more than fifteen years. A majority of 1st and 2nd year students own an “iClicker” as they are used in many large introductory lectures. Most university classrooms have an iClicker base used by the instructor to receive votes that can be attached either to a laptop or the instructor PC.  Students register their iClicker remote in Canvas and grades can be uploaded to the Canvas gradebook if the instructor desires.

Clicker in hand

Some instructors have experimented with “low-tech” paper clickers, where students respond to questions by revealing one of four colored letters.  This usually provides more interaction and less risk for students, but does not allow tracking/grading responses.

Pedagogical Suggestions

HOW a response system is used in class is very important!  Research on clickers indicates that just “quizzing” students or taking attendance by clicker can actually diminish learning.  The key to using response systems successfully is to focus on two things:

  • Systems should be used to promote interactions between students as they discuss and defend their responses. Richer student responses may mean LESS discussion. There’s debate about whether higher-tech response systems take student attention and time away from “mainstream” class activities, and whether student “multitasking” results in better learning.
  • The instructor should use responses to direct and inform class activities in real time. Based on student feedback, instructors can add or eliminate examples, speed up or slow down, or address common misconceptions.

Clickers can be effectively used to gauge student opinions, review recently covered material, check prior knowledge, predict the outcome of a demonstration, or monitor progress.


iClicker-Canvas Software Set-Up

Play iClicker-Canvas Software Set-Up video
Preview image for iClicker-Canvas Software Set-Up video

iClicker-Canvas Software Set-Up

iClicker Reef Integration

iClicker has a new device-based response system called Reef.  Students purchase access to the Reef system and join the course from their mobile device or laptop.  In the classroom students respond to polls on their device instead of with a traditional iClicker remote.  Reef responses are collected in the same iClicker software that is used for traditional iClicker remotes.  View the screencast below on configuring your software to allow Reef users to join your iClicker course.

Play iClicker Reef Software Integration video
Preview image for iClicker Reef Software Integration video

iClicker Reef Software Integration


If you would like to discuss how the iClicker student response system can be used in your classroom contact the CTL (ctl@mtu.edu, or 487-3000) for an individual consultation.