Answer to “Should I use an audience response system?”


Audience response systems (ARS) can be used to make the lecture more interactive.  Questions are asked during the lecture and students respond using some electronic input devise (Coloured cards have also been used as a simpler approach but without the advantage of an analysis of student responses).


BEME Guide 21 provides a comprehensive synthesis of the evidence to guide the lecturer about the use of ARS.  Conclusions included:


  • The use of an ARS can improve the student's knowledge outcomes

  • The effect was more marked when non-interactive lectures were compared with lectures when an ARS was used

  • The difference was less when the ARS lecture was compared with the interactive lecture

  • The beneficial efforts of ARS appear to be more marked in postgraduate education


Nelson, C., Hartling, L., Campbell, S., & Oswald, A.E. (2012).  The effects of audience response systems on learning outcomes in health professions education. A BEME systematic review: BEME Guide No. 21.  Medical Teacher, 34:6, e386-e405.

Premukumar, K, and Coupal, C (2008).  Rules of engagement – 12 tips for successful use of “clickers” in the classroom.  Medical Teacher 2008; 30: 146-149.