Personal response systems

A personal response system is a system of hardware and software that captures answers to questions in proprietary presentation software, such as Microsoft PowerPoint. The hardware is a handheld transmitter that sends and receives data via a wireless infra-red signal (much like a TV remote control handset). The system allows the presenter to ask the audience questions, (usually multiple choice [MCQ] or MCQ derivatives such as True/False, Yes/No) and for the audience to select their answer by using the handset. The results can then be viewed in real-time via the presentation software.
In an educational context, the presenter would be a teacher and the audience would be students. Personal response systems have been used successfully in lecture theatres for some time.
The benefits of using personal response systems are:

  • Lecturers are able to identify any gaps in knowledge (this is why PRS are particularly effective in a lecture).
  • Students are able to track their own progress without risking embarrassment in front of their peers
  • They provide an opportunity to break up a lecture and also maintain student engagement/attention

If you would like to know more about using personal response systems in your teaching, view the ASTIĀ Turning Point information sheet.

For further information on the research that has been done around the pedagogic benefits of using personal response systems in teaching, the following links may be of use:
University of Reading – Personal Response Systems
Sage Journals: Empowering or compelling reluctant participators using audience response systems (needs Plymouth university authentication to access paper)
Educause article : Clickers in the Classroom: An Active Learning Approach

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