The Daily Pop Quiz: Teaching and Learning with Clickers

23 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2012 Last revised: 12 Feb 2012

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2012


In recent years, technology has gained a firm foothold in higher education classrooms. Student response systems (AKA clickers) are among the most common teaching technologies incorporated into classrooms today (Immerwahr 2009; Winograd & Cheesman 2007).

Theory: Given clickers’ growing popularity over the last decade, particularly among those teaching large enrollment courses, dozens of studies in fields ranging from biology to physics to political science have sought to evaluate clickers’ effects on learning (e.g., Beavers 2010; El-Rady 2006; Salemi 2008; Stuart, Brown, & Draper 2004; Winograd and Cheesman 2007). Most research data on clickers can be grouped into one of three general categories: (1) examples of pedagogical techniques, (2) user perception studies, and (3) quasi-experimental tests of knowledge change. Nearly every study identifies benefits gained by incorporating clickers into the classroom. However, evidence about the nature of the causal link between “clicking” and these claimed benefits is typically absent. To fill this void, we theorize that students benefit from using clickers in class, because: clicker quiz questions connect each day’s material to exams (and thus to students’ grades), and clicker quizzes may improve student attendance and engagement.

Data: Studying this relationship in a large class (i.e., 300 students), we test competing explanations using opinion surveys as well as behavioral data.

Findings: We find that clickers may enhance students’ performance through a number of mechanisms: (1) more consistent class attendance, (2) “on the fly” formative assessment of student knowledge, (3) signaling high-priority course content, and (4) increased classroom participation and attention. These processes appear to operate simultaneously, although in different intensities for different students.

Suggested Citation

Brians, Craig Leonard, The Daily Pop Quiz: Teaching and Learning with Clickers (2012). APSA 2012 Teaching & Learning Conference Paper, Available at SSRN:

Craig Leonard Brians (Contact Author)

Virginia Tech ( email )

531 Major Williams Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061
United States


Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics