Using i-clickers for Library Instruction

Continuing with our practical approach to library instruction, this April we have a real hands-on tip for using the i-clicker tool for library instruction, including where to access i-clickers at the University of Waterloo for use in library instruction.

What are clickers and how do they work?

Clickers are an interactive technology that enables instructors to pose questions to students and immediately collect and view the responses of the entire class. This is how clickers work:

  1. Instructors present multiple-choice questions (verbally or with presentation software like PowerPoint).
  2. Students click in their answers using remote transmitters.
  3. The system instantly collects and tabulates the results, which instructors can view, save, and (if they wish) display anonymously for the entire class to see.

What is the pedagogical value of using clickers?

No technology automatically enhances learning; rather, it must be used thoughtfully and deliberately to advance the learning objectives of a particular course. For example, an instructor in a large or medium-size class might choose to use clickers to:

  1. Elicit student participation and engagement to prompt deeper thinkingabout a particular question or problem.
  2. Monitor students’ understanding of course content in real time, in order to identify and address areas of confusion and adjust the pace of the course appropriately.
  3. Provide students with instant feedback on their comprehension to help them monitor their own understanding.
  4. Spark discussion among students as they compare, justify, and (perhaps) modify their answers.
  5. Efficiently deliver and grade in-class quizzes, to hold students accountable for readings and lecture material and assess basic factual knowledge.

What are the potential trade-offs to using clickers?

Research across a wide range of disciplines has demonstrated learning advantages to using clickers. However, there are potential “costs” to consider along with potential benefits. For example:

1. It can take an initial investment of time to learn to use the system and manage the data it generates.

2.Monitoring students’ understanding and responding appropriately requires on-the-fly flexibility and some loss of some predictability when delivering lectures.

  1. Using clickers takes class time, though the amount of class time depends on how you choose to use the technology.
  2. Creating good concept questions (in particular, questions that help you diagnose misconceptions) can be challenging.

How might I use clickers?

Here is an example of how clickers could be used:

A Library instructor checks students’ comprehension of the material by posing questions at several points in every lecture, and asking students to click in their answers. The system immediately displays a graphic representation of students’ answers to the instructor, who uses it to determine whether s/he should slow down, repeat information, clarify a concept, provide an alternative example, pick up the pace, etc.

Where to access clickers to use for Library Instruction at the University of Waterloo?

Clickers can be borrowed from CTE, in EV1. Our contact there is Paul Kates. We have previously borrowed up to 40 clickers plus the receiver. You also need to borrow a receiver, which you can get from Paul as well, whose contact information can be found at the bottom of the following page:

In order to actually use them, you’ll need the i-clicker software, which is also found on the above page by clicking on IST clicker software page.

IST has a page dedicated to clicker information:

Manufacturer’s website:

For other Teaching Tips and more Teaching Resources see:

LINC Toolkit – Teaching Resources

Thank you,

The Library Instruction Committee


“Teaching with Clickers.” Carnegie Mellon. Eberly Center, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

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One Response to Using i-clickers for Library Instruction

  1. Anne Fullerton says:

    Great posting, Jan.

    Paul Kate’s has a website on the CTE page includes 8 min video of clickers in use in classroom.


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