IU Student Response Systems (Top Hat)
Student Response Systems (SRS) or clickers, as they’re commonly known, are designed to support communication and interaction. When implemented successfully, SRS can help engage students, encourage interaction, and contribute to student learning.
Top Hat is the preferred SRS for Indiana University. Top Hat is a comprehensive teaching platform that instructors can use to engage students both within and outside of the classroom with interactive slides, graded questions, customized content, videos, discussions, and polls. Students use smartphones, tablets, or laptops to participate in Top Hat activities.
If you are interested in using Top, learn more at IU Knowledge Base article, "Getting Started with Top Hat."
If you plan to use Top Hat in a future course, please fill out the IU Top Hat Planning Form.
What are Student Response Systems (SRS)?
Student Response Systems are classroom communication systems designed to support communication and interaction in classrooms.
Student Response Systems are used like this:
- Instructor presents a question or problem to the class.
- Students enter their responses using a mobile device.
- The system aggregates and summarizes student responses for the instructor and public display.
Why Use Student Response Systems (SRS)?
- Student Response Systems can be used to make lectures more interactive.
- Students are more actively engaged when SRS are used.
- Students maintain attention longer with SRS.
- SRS can facilitate collaboration among students.
- Participation increases as all students, not just a vocal minority, have the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions.
- When students have to respond to questions, they do more mental processing than when questions are asked rhetorically or answered by only a handful of other students.
How Can Student Response Systems (SRS) Be Used?
Background knowledge probes. At the beginning of class or as a topic is introduced, SRS can be used to survey students’ knowledge, opinions, or attitudes towards a topic.
Formative assessment. SRS can be used to informally check on students’ learning. For example, after content has been presented through lecture or reading assignments, students could be asked application questions or to choose the correct answer to a problem. This feedback can be useful not only to students but also to instructors as it provides information that can be used to fine tune instruction.
Discussion launching. SRS can be used to launch small group discussions. Students can discuss questions in a group, and then respond as a group to questions.
Peer assessment. Students can use SRS to give feedback to other students about presentations or other public student work.
Demonstrations/experiments. SRS can be used to demonstrate a variety of scientific phenomena or to have students predict results of experimental manipulations.
Attendance. SRS can provide a record of student attendance.
Study guides or practice tests. SRS can be used to review material or provide practice questions for students to help prepare them for tests.
Quizzes or tests. It’s possible to record students responses. SRS can be used for graded quizzes and tests, however this option has many considerations to ensure it is used properly. We strongly encourages talking with us prior to implementing any sort of high stakes testing involve student response systems.
What Are Possible Concerns With Using Student Response Systems (SRS)?
Need to redesign instruction. The use of SRS requires instructors to rethink their instruction to leverage the potential advantages of using SRS. They may start with just minor changes, but major pedagogical changes also may be implemented.
Less control of class. Student responses are not always predictable and instructors need to be prepared when students’ interests or learning needs are different than what the instructor anticipated. This may mean changing the lesson plan during class.
Time requirements. Using SRS, especially at first, takes additional class time.
Technology requirements. Instructors need to learn how to use the technology, be prepared to set it up in class, and know how to deal with technical difficulties that arise.
Expense. Currently, there is a cost associated with using student response systems. This cost is usually paid for by the student or can be purchased by the department.
How Might Students Respond to Student Response Systems (SRS)?
Students most often enjoy using SRS once they become used to them.
Students generally think that using SRS contributes to their understanding. They appreciate the feedback they get about their own understanding of material.
Students appreciate anonymity provided by the use of SRS. While Top Hat allows for grading of responses, this adds pressure and will likely impact students' appreciation for the technology.
If students are accustomed to passive lectures they initially may be uncomfortable with the more active format required by the use of SRS.
Students may perceive even formative assessment with SRS as tests, so may have concerns about that.
Students respond to SRS most positively when they are used to engage students interactively, not just for quick feedback or attendance taking.
Pedagogy first, technology second. Use SRS to help students reach instructional goals for your course, don’t let technology become the main focus.
Bruff, D. (n.d.) Classroom response systems. Retrieved from http://www.vanderbilt.edu/cft/resources/teaching_resources/technology/crs.htm
Draper, S. W., & Brown, M. I. (2004). Increasing interactivity in lectures using an electronic voting system. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 20(2), 81-94. Retrieved from http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/~steve/ilig/papers/draperbrown.pdf
Duncan, D. (2005). Clickers in the classroom: How to enhance science teaching using classroom response systems. San Francisco: Pearson Education.
Judson, E. & Sawada, D. (2002). Learning from past and present: Electronic response systems in college lecture halls. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 21(2), 167-181.
Penuel, W. R., Roschelle, J., Crawford, V., Shechtman, N. (2004). CATAALYST workshop report: Advancing research on the transformative potential of interactive pedagogies and classroom networks. Retrieved on October 13, 2006, from http://ctl.sri.com/publications/downloads/CATAALYST_Workshop_Report.pdf
Updated March, 2018 by Kael Kanczuzewski