Using "clickers" in the classroom

  • Faculty & Staff

Special Notes for 2015–16

  • We are pilot testing Poll Everywhere.  
  • We are using TurningPoint 5 software, but anyone wanting to pilot test TurningPoint Cloud should contact us at

What are audience response systems / clickers?

These are hardware and/or software solutions for allowing students to respond to questions posed by the instructor.  Depending on the system, instructors have the option to display a histogram of the responses, track who has voted, and track each person's response.


Why do teachers use them? 

  • Teachers use these systems to informally assess students' knowledge of a topic before lecturing, to see whether students understand a point after it has been explained, and to ask survey or opinion questions.  

  • For a step-by-step method of using them for peer instruction, see the slideshow by Eric Mazur of Harvard at  This slideshow uses TurningTechnologies clickers, but any audience response system could achieve the same results.

  • Links to a variety of articles on the pedagogy and applications of audience response systems are available at


What systems are available at Penn?

For 2015-16, we have two systems available:

  • Turning Point "clickers"
    Students purchase a hardware "clicker", and instructors use free software and a USB receiver that we provide.  This is best for instructors who want to track individual students' participation and optionally grade responses.
    Learn more ...

ResponseCards and Receiver

  • PollEverywhere
    Students respond via text message or on a website by using a phone, tablet or laptop, and instructors use software that we have licensed for this year.  This is best for un-registered anonymous polls, where you don't track whether a person votes, but the system is very easy to set up and use.
    Learn more ...