Thursday, March 05, 2009

Student Response Systems in Library Instruction

A few months ago, Evelyne Corcos and Vivienne Monty published a study of student response systems in library instruction. Their article, “Interactivity in Library Presentations Using a Personal Response System” appeared in EDUCAUSE Quarterly. Personal response systems (PRS) (aka student response systems or audience response systems) allow students to use wire-less clickers in order to respond to instructors’ questions. An instructor poses a multiple-choice question and students respond by clicking the appropriate button on wire-less, handheld “clickers.” The instructor can display the live results to the class or to him/herself.

In Corcos and Monty’s study of personal response systems (PRS), York University students participated either in traditional library instruction or PRS-enabled instruction. The librarians selected PRS as a means of increasing student interactivity in library instruction. Students in the PRS classes ranked instruction as more enjoyable and engaging and better presented and organized. The librarian in the PRS classes enjoyed knowing students were active by their clicker responses. Nevertheless, PRS did present challenges in time involvement and technical difficulties. Corcos and Monty recommend “a standardized routine for setting up the PRS equipment and software.”


  • Immediate feedback
  • Opportunity for formative assessment
  • Tailor instruction based on responses
  • Identify areas of low comprehension
  • Anonymity reduces student embarrassment


  • Technical difficulties
  • Pre-set questions reduce flexibility
  • Requires more preparation

The authors don't list this as a con, but it seems to me that keeping up with the clickers could be a hassle. How do prevent students from accidently taking the clickers home? Anyways, I would still love to try them.