Using Quizzes and “Clickers” for Assessing Students’ Understanding of Concepts in Real Time-Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation - Carnegie Mellon University

Instructor: Paul Karol
Course: 09-105: Introduction to Modern Chemistry, Chemistry Department,
Mellon College of Science
Assessment: Using Quizzes and “Clickers” for Assessing Students’ Understanding of Concepts in Real Time


In a large lecture course, it is difficult to know what students do and do not understand as material is presented. I noticed that students did not understand basic concepts, were unable to apply the concepts to problems in class, and had difficulty self-assessing their understanding in class. I had tried pencil-and-paper concept quizzes, but the additional grading and analysis of results was time-consuming. I wanted to assess student understanding of basic concepts as they were covered during the lecture, but maintain a manageable amount of time spent grading and providing feedback.


I began using a clicker system that students could use to answer concept quizzes. Each week, I administered a concept quiz to assess students’ understanding of concepts recently covered in lecture. Before each quiz, I asked students if they had understood all the concepts; then I put up the slides for the quiz.


Students have responded positively to taking concept quizzes with the clicker system because they see it as a collaborative exercise in learning. It has also helped me to know if I should return to a concept or move onto the next one.


Learning to set up the software for the clicker system takes time, and there can be some technical issues with the clickers themselves.

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