Using Student Response Systems to Increase Motivation, Learning, and Knowledge Retention

Oct. 05, 2008

Source: Innovate (2008) 5 (1).
(Reviewed by The Portal Team)

Student response system (SRS) technology is one of the many tools available to help instructors create a rich and productive learning environment. The SRS presents questions to the class, prompts students to enter responses using a pocket-sized keypad transmitter, and provides aggregated feedback regarding student responses to the instructor. This technology can be used to assess students’ comprehension of complex material.
Furthermore, the question-and-feedback process has the potential to promote greater student engagement in class discussions, and group activities in which students solve problems together and submit answers using the SRS can promote active learning.

The primary goal of this study is to examine the extent to which SRS can impact student motivation and foster active learning.


We incorporated an SRS into one section of our organizational behavior class at Montclair State University, embedding multiple-choice questions at key points in the lecture;
in turn, we taught another section of the same class without such technology.
We then used a survey to compare both student groups in terms of their self-reported interest in the class and their performance expectations for an end-of semester retention test while also comparing both groups in terms of their actual performance on the retention test as well as on a midterm exam.

Participants and Procedures

The 145 participants in this study all took the same undergraduate organizational behavior class. 70 participants were in the control group that took the class in the fall semester without the use of the SRS. The second group (n = 75) took the class in the spring semester with the use of the SRS; this was the testing group.


Results indicate that although the classes were comparable at the onset of the semester, those students who used the SRS as an integral part of the classroom reported greater interest in the class and higher expectations of success, performed better on a midterm exam, and more importantly, performed better on a knowledge-retention test administered at the end of the semester.


This study provided empirical evidence that SRS may play an important role in student performance and knowledge retention. Although the SRS may not necessarily be the most innovative technology available to educators, but this study demonstrates that it is an effective technology when supported by sound learning principles.

Updated: Oct. 27, 2008