Effect of Personal Response Systems on Student Perception and Academic Performance in Courses in a Health Sciences Curriculum

Document Type

Article - Open Access

Publication Title

Advances in Physiology Education


American Physiological Society

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

To increase student engagement, active participation, and performance, personal response systems (clickers) were incorporated into six lecture-based sections of four required courses within the Health Sciences Department major curriculum: freshman-level Anatomy and Physiology I and II, junior-level Exercise Physiology, and senior-level Human Pathophysiology. Clickers were used to gather anonymous student responses to questions posed within the class period after individual thought and peer discussion. Students (n = 293, 88% of students completing the courses) completed a perceptual survey on clicker effectiveness inserted into the Student Assessment of Learning Gains online instrument. Across courses and years, students uniformly rated several dimensions of clicker use as providing good to great gain in engaging them in active learning, increasing participation and involvement during class, maintaining attention, applying material immediately, providing feedback concerning their understanding, and offering an anonymous format for participation. Within these four sections, quiz grades were compared between clicker and nonclicker years. Significant increases in pre- and posttest scores were seen in Exercise Physiology in clicker years and on some, but not all material, in Anatomy and Physiology I and II based on content quizzes. Human Pathophysiology results were unexpected, with higher quiz scores in the nonclicker year. The results support the hypothesis of increased engagement with clicker use. The hypothesis of increased student performance was not consistently supported. Increased performance was seen in Exercise Physiology. In Anatomy and Physiology I and II, performance improved on some content quizzes. In Human Pathophysiology, performance did not improve with clickers.