Student Response Systems: How Effective are they on Student Outcomes?

Tuesday, 13 July 2010: 3:45 PM

Mary Baumberger-Henry, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, Widener University, Chester, PA

Educators have recognized the use of technology and its additional value to the classroom experience in elementary and higher education for many years.  Student response systems (SRS) or clickers have been in existence for over three decades.  These systems and the related pedagogy have great potential to transform classrooms to be more learner-knowledge and assessment-oriented.  SRS have been used in a variety of different contexts from professional continuing education to undergraduate classes.  Unfortunately, empirical studies in nursing are limited.
Much of the existing literature in nursing on SRS is anecdotal and there is a need for rigorous exploration of this technology across diverse populations and pedagogies.  Likewise, findings have been mixed with respect to objective test scores and perceptions of SRS.  With the increased sizes of nursing classes, the use of SRS may be an important tool to increase student interaction and engagement while also improving outcomes. 
            A quasi-experimental comparison study was conducted with junior medical/surgical nursing students (N=70) at a metropolitan university in the Eastern United States. Clickers were used by the experimental group (n= 38) for questioning throughout class time and the control group (n= 32) answered questions without clickers.  No significant differences between groups on any measure of performance were found.  A replication study was conducted the following year with junior medical/surgical nursing students (N=80).  Again, no differences were found between the experimental group (n=44) and the control group (n=36).
Focus groups were conducted to describe student perceptions of SRS.  Three themes emerged from the focus groups: Being able to respond anonymously, Validating an answer while providing immediate feedback, and Providing an interactive and engaging environment.  Although the clickers did not improve learning outcomes as measured by objective testing, student perceptions indicated an increased degree of classroom engagement.  Future research needs to examine other potential outcome variables.