Best Practices – for Instructors

General Tips

Here are some general scenarios of how clickers are used to enhance the classroom experience:

  • Assessment
    • Summative: Quizzes are instantly recorded, graded, and the scores are stored electronically.
    • Formative: “On the fly” questions instantly indicate levels of student understanding. Adjust your teaching approach accordingly.
  • Concept Attainment
    • Create questions which include muddy points or common misconceptions. Display the answers in graphical form, and use it as a launch pad for discussion.
  • Student Engagement
    • Students think clickers are fun, they attend class more often in clicker classes, and they claim to learn more when they use clickers.
  • Reporting Data
    • Use the statistical data to identify and chart progress and identify trends in student learning on both an individual student level and on a course-wide level.

Specific Suggestions

  1. Make clicker activities worth 10 -15% of the overall course grade. This number carries enough weight to encourage students to come prepared and participate.
  2. Drop a certain number of lowest participation grades. This will eliminate the need to facilitate make-up activities if students miss a couple clicker activities.
  3. Do not count the first couple weeks’ clicker activities as graded. As with any new technology, there is bound to be a learning curve and possible glitches. Allowing a “practice” period will help ensure a smooth introduction of the clickers and will reduce possible student concerns during the introductory period.
  4. Use clickers regularly throughout the semester. Students tend to find the most benefit from clickers when they are used regularly.
  5. Disperse clicker questions throughout the individual lesson. Ask a clicker question or two every 10-15 minutes to foster student engagement.

Technical Recommendations

  • Keep the bells and whistles (e.g., countdown timers and correct answer indicators) to a minimum.
  • If presentations are very large or contain a lot of complex slide elements and animations, break it up into smaller files.


The following external links open in new windows.

Educause – 7 Things You Should Know About Clickers (PDF): Educause is an educational technology organization that, among other things, publishes newsletters and handouts. The link opens a two-page PDF that describes what clickers are, how they can be used, and more.

UW-System Clicker Project – Faculty Resources: Best practices, showcases, articles and guides from the UW-System clicker project and compiled by UW-Milwaukee.

Clicker Resources from UW-Madison’s Engage Program: Engage is part of the Madison Initiative and administered by DoIT (Division of Information Technology). Included in the Clicker Resources site are best practices, examples, and external resources.

Paper or Plastic: Evidence from a Sample of Clicker versus Paper Quizzes By Johnson, Robson, & Van Scyoc. Instructors at UW-Oshkosh evaluate the effectiveness of clickers in increasing student engagement and performance.

Clickers in the Large Classroom: Current Research and Best Practice Tips: A comprehensive analysis of clickers including recommendations for effective use and statistics about student attitudes and performance. Caldwell, J.E. (2007). . Life Sciences Education, 6(1), 9-20.

Clicker Bibliography: Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching provides a comprehensive list of journal articles, news stories, books, vendor comparisons, and discipline-specific resources on clickers.