Learner Response System

Clickers are hand-held devices that allow students in the classroom to answer questions electronically, and receive instant feedback. When pupils respond to a question, teachers can see how individual pupils answered: for example, how long they are taking with each question, how many attempts they need, where they are going wrong. This provides immediate information to the teacher on which elements of a topic pupils understand or find challenging, so that they can adjust their approach and feedback accordingly within the lesson and target support at struggling pupils. The devices also provide instant feedback to pupils, and suggestions if they have made a mistake. This project aims to test the impact of this ‘learner response system’ (LRS) on the speed and quality of feedback pupils receive, and the subsequent impact on outcomes in literacy and numeracy.

Why are we funding it?

There is strong evidence on the value of effective feedback, as summarised in the Toolkit, and many studies from the UK and abroad show that frequent formative assessments in daily classroom instruction can accelerate pupils’ learning. Within the technology literature, research has shown that students value the use of LRS for three main reasons: it allows them to respond anonymously without fear of criticism, it validates answers with immediate feedback, and it contributes to an interactive and engaging classroom environment. Two studies showed improvements in maths and grammar scores for pupils using handsets, with particular gains for low and middle attaining pupils. The evaluations found that the technology made an important contribution to resolving the problems teachers face in identifying how the learning of each pupil is progressing in the lesson; which pupils require support; and which topics require revisiting.

How are we evaluating it?

The EEF partnered with Nominet Trust to co-fund projects focusing on the use of digital technology in raising the attainment of disadvantaged children. This was one of the seven projects we co-funded. You can read the announcement of this partnership here.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation will be conducted by a team from the Institute of Education. The evaluation is set up as an effectiveness trial. Effectiveness trials aim to test whether an intervention can work at scale in a large number of schools.

The evaluation will involve a randomised controlled trial in Years 5 and 6. Key Stage 2 maths and English SATs results will be used to assess the impact of the intervention. For the process evaluation, the evaluator will conduct an online survey with all teachers from treatment and control schools to understand the necessary conditions for success, implementation fidelity and the attitudes and practices of teachers involved. They will also attend a training event, and do more in-depth research at 3-5 case study sites, through teacher interviews, focus groups with pupils and lesson observations.