Plickers Assessment Tool: For Any Educational Environment
Do you wish you had another means to receive formative feedback from students, increase student participation, and/or track student progress in your classes? You may be familiar with the Clickers response system, the electronic device you put in your hand, but you may not be familiar with Plickers. Plickers response system is similar to the Clickers response system in that a multiple choice (MC) or True/False (TF) question is asked, and the responders select + – an answer, while remaining anonymous to the class. The initiator, or instructor, however, does see individual answers.
I have been using Plickers for two years now at Hostos in my Physical Education classes. As is the case with any new pedagogical tool, it took me quite a while to become comfortable with, and then grow wise in its use, implementation, and practicality. The actual computer set-up is beyond the scope of this brief article, but suffice it to say that all that is needed is what appears to be a QR code (it looks more like a Rorschach Test) on an 8” x 11” piece of paper that the instructor provides for each student, and the instructor’s electronic device, i.e. cell phone or iPad. More specifically, the instructor registers on the free website, creates classes, creates students within those classes, and creates a library of questions to ask students. (Figure 1). The instructor prints out the QR sheets containing student numbers (without names) assigned by Plickers and MC or TF answer choices. The instructor provides a MC or TF question either verbally, or by placing the question on the board. I write out the daily question on the board for students, who read it along with the day’s lesson plan as they enter class. Following the physical exercise section of class, I announce that it is Plickers time. They pull out their own individual sheet, which is attached to their personal fitness packets/log sheets. They hold it up facing me, and I scan it with my iPhone and receive immediate notification of how many and who answered correctly and incorrectly (See Figure 2). Once this is done I indicate the correct answer, and either discuss why, or discuss the incorrect answers, or both. Often a student will volunteer to explain the answer.
Teacher -created questions (with answer choices) in Plickers library
When students come for an office hour visit for any reason, I often bring the Plickers app up on the computer to see their answers during the semester. Their answers, both correct and incorrect, are reviewed. Students love seeing the color-coded data (Figure 3). Students ended up enjoying it more than I anticipated.
Figure 2 From Plickers Website
In response to seeing that students seemed to be fascinated by its use, and to inform my own teaching, I decided to conduct a student survey in all of my classes on Plickers. Questions, with response choices on a Likert-type scale, were:
Question 1: How easy was it to give your answer using Plickers?
Not easy Fairly easy Pretty easy Very easy
Question 2: How time efficient was using Plickers for the class?
Not efficient Could improve OK It was quick.
Question 3: Prof. Gosset reviewed answers after getting the class responses. How much did Plickers help your learning?
Not at all A little A good amount A lot
Question 4: Did you enjoy using Plickers?
No, not at all Nothing special It was ok. A lot of fun
The results were as follows:
Question 1: 3.36 Question 2: 3.54 Question 3: 3.20 Question 4: 3.31
The best part was that, never in my wildest dreams, could I imagine the optional student
comments. The following is a full list of comments, verbatim.
“It was very helpful with the time efficient.”
“It was my first experience using this in class, a great way to efficiently get scores. It was fun, too.”
“Good way to learn about what you know.”
“Plickers helps me learn more about volleyball.”
“I never used Plickers before. I think it’s a good idea to use Plickers, it was helpful to me.”
“I wish every class would use these instead of quizzes.”
“I like the Plickers. It’s fun, it’s effective, it’s so easy. It’s the first time I ever done Plickers.”
“Great system to see who is actually grasping material and also a good way to focus on certain topics.”
“It made the class more efficient especially since it is a short amount of time.”
“It’s a great way to help the students engage.”
“Never heard of Plickers until coming to this class. It was a fun experience. “
“Cool new component. Use it more to get better feedback.”
“It was good and different method, because it takes short time to know all the answers and we have more time to discuss the answers. Good idea, Professor.”
“Plickers is really fun and easy activity and at the same time it helps us to learn a lot more.”
The following comment came from an individual in my Volleyball class (where it is challenging to find a way to visually show the question), as this student discussed it with me.
To be honest, I can only speak for myself, but I feel like actually seeing, reading the questions will be more effective to embed the information into my brain.
It is evident to me that my use of Plickers has been successful. There is a website for it and several Youtube videos as well. The system and its computer application are continually evolving. For example, an instructor can now download/import a spreadsheet to insert names for classes, rather than needing to type each one in (as I did my first couple of years), and I can also now create a question on the iPhone in addition to having created them on the computer.
The possibilities for using Plickers are limitless. Any subject or course, from Math to Languages and Sciences to Nursing can find practicality. As an example, in addition to using Plickers in my activity and fitness courses, I now use it in my PED 201 (WI) Foundations of Physical Education, Exercise Science, & Sport course. The students have found a way to store or attach the Plickers sheet to their notebook. The question has been written on the board prior to their entrance. Within five minutes of class beginning, I read the question and they choose their answer. This provides a great review, with the formative feedback mentioned, and becomes their “attendance” for arriving at the beginning of class.
The QR code sheet can be attached to a student’s book, inside a binder/notebook, or on a folder. The sheets are available in different sizes, from index card size to 8” x 11”.
Instructors….find your own uses for it and take advantage of the novelty, ease, and effectiveness of the system!
National Association of Sport, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. (2008). PE Metrics: Assessing National Standards 1-6 in Elementary School (2nd Ed.). Reston, VA: American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.
Physical Education Unit Coordinator
Dr. Michael Gosset is a Lecturer in the Physical Education Unit, and is also Unit Coordinator. Prior to arriving at Hostos, he taught in the Education field for over 25 years. His degrees are in Physical Education, School Administration, and Curriculum and Teaching in Physical Education. His doctoral research (Teachers College, Columbia University) investigated 4th and 5th grade students’ attitude toward physical education in 2 different curricular approaches.