As Student Response Systems Expand Features and Question Types, Multiple Choice Continues to be the Gold Standard for Calculations from both Student and Instructor Perspectives


  • Kyle Anderson University of Saskatchewan



clickers, engagement, active learning, student response system, BYOD, Top Hat


Student response systems (SRS) continue to evolve as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) systems allow more question and answer types to be utilized. While users were once limited to a button press on a clicker selecting from a list of predetermined responses, students can now generate text and numerical responses on their personal devices. Question and response types are now limited only by software, and new features can be added without requiring an overhaul of the existing system. Using two successive course offerings of a biomedical lab techniques class, the effect of question type was evaluated, using a crossover experimental design, and applied to novel discipline-specific calculations. Students used the Top Hat student response system ( to answer either multiple choice questions (MCQ) or numerical response questions (NRQ) in class. Student responses were tracked for elapsed time to completion, performance, and subsequent test performance. Additionally, students were surveyed about their question-type preference. Analysis shows that on formative assessments, students take less time on multiple choice questions, are successful more often, and show a clear preference for this type. When students used those calculations on summative exams, they performed similarly regardless of whether they initially used MCQ or NRQ. Students also expressed clear preference for MCQ. The use of NRQ is still recommended to be used strategically as it increases question difficulty and diversity. The findings from this study may assist STEM instructors looking to formulate their own evidence-based best practices when incorporating SRSs into
their pedagogy.


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Author Biography

Kyle Anderson, University of Saskatchewan

Kyle Anderson is a teaching-stream Assistant Professor in the department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Saskatchewan. His key SoTL interests are in making education more engaging and accessible to diverse learners as an early adopter of educational technologies.