Student Engagement Systems

What is a Student Engagement System or “clicker”?

Student Engagement Systems are often referred to as clickers, but you will also see them called Personal Response Systems, Student Response Systems, Audience Response Systems, and Classroom Response Systems.

Many may know clickers as handheld devices that enable students to respond to an instructor's multiple-choice questions. Now, they are mostly apps or websites students use on their own smartphones and laptops and they enable a range of question types. Use of clickers, or Student Engagements Systems (SES), provide instructors a tool to gauge student understanding of concepts and information in a course in real time. For an instructor seeking to engage students responsively, no matter what the class size, an SES can be an amazingly powerful tool. Possible uses include:

  • establishing baseline knowledge before embarking on a new topic,
  • uncovering typical misconceptions,
  • testing student ability to apply a concept to specific situations,
  • surveying student opinions,
  • predicting outcomes,
  • checking comprehension of class readings before continuing, and
  • inspiring student discussion.

Benefits of using a Student Engagement System

A great deal of research such as the Kaleta and Joosten (2007) study in Wisconsin has been conducted and provide evidence that use of an SES can increase student engagement, participation and interaction as well as student performance. Using an SES also provides immediate feedback, enhanced collaboration and critical thinking, and improved retention and comprehension.

The video The Clickers in the Classroom: The Research by the Science Education Initiative at the University of Boulder summarizes their evidence and best practices.

Which one to use?

The University of Windsor does not have an institutional license for a Student Engagement System.

Many systems have useful free versions that may meet the needs of your classroom. Some systems also support instructor-pay licenses, some support student-pay licenses, and some support both.

These are just a few of the common systems on the market at the moment:

  • iClicker Cloud
  • Mentimeter
  • Poll Everywhere
  • Acadly
  • ClassQuestion
  • Echo360
  • Kahoot
  • Learning Catalytics
  • Socrative
  • Top Hat

All of these are web based, which means no physical device needs to be purchased by the instructor or students. 

A recent UWindsor Student Engagement Systems Working Group identified iClicker Cloud as a preferred system for student-pay licensing and Mentimeter as the preferred system for instructor-pay licensing.

iClicker Cloud

(Preferred for student-pay licensing)

Of the few that offer student-pay licensing, its price is one of the best and the system ranked the highest in meeting the various anticipated needs of the faculty and staff of Windsor.

UWindsor previously supported iClickers and MacMillan Learning (owner of iClicker) was responsive to our needs.

They have provided a HECVAT (a security analysis document) and VPAT (accessibility analysis document) and are actively working to improve accessibility short-comings.

iClicker Student App Purchasing & Participation Options


(Preferred for instructor-pay licensing)

Of the instructor-pay licensing options, it rated similarly to Kahoot, as one of the best priced but it is better for very large classes as it has a plan for unlimited students. UWindsor has supported in the past. Mentimeter now integrates with MS Teams.

They have provided a security analysis statement and VPAT (accessibility analysis document) for (student facing web interface).

Best Practices for using a Student Engagement System

Tips for Successful “Clicker” Use by Dr. Douglas Duncan, University of Colorado. Although it mentions physical clickers, this 2-pager explains what practices will make your SES use a success or a failure. 

Clicker Resource Guide: An Instructors Guide to the Effective Use of Personal Response Systems (Clickers) in Teaching by sta­ff of the CU Science Education Initiative and the UBC Carl Wieman SEI

UWindsor’s The Use of Digital Learning Resources for Instructional and Assessment Purposes Policy

Accessibility Matters

Before selecting an SES, consider its accessibility for all students. iClicker Cloud and Mentimeter have identified some accessibility issues and their plans to fix the issues.

Training and Support


iClicker Cloud

For pedagogical support and incorporating an SES into your course,