What Is a CRS?
A classroom response system (sometimes called a personal response system, student response system, or audience response system) is a set of hardware and software that facilitates teaching activities such as the following.
- A teacher poses a multiple-choice question to his or her students via an overhead or computer projector.
- Each student submits an answer to the question using a handheld transmitter that beams a radio-frequency signal to a receiver attached to the teacher’s computer.
- Software on the teacher’s computer collects the students’ answers and produces a bar chart showing how many students chose each of the answer choices.
- The teacher makes “on the fly” instructional choices in response to the bar chart by, for example, leading students in a discussion of the merits of each answer choice or asking students to discuss the question in small groups.
The Vanderbilt Center for Teaching has decided to use the term “classroom response system” to describe this technology. The term “audience response system” is another popular term, but some faculty see that term as implying that students are passive members of an audience, which runs counter to their use of this technology in getting students actively engaged with course material during class. The term “personal response system” is also popular, but we have decided not to use it, since it happens to be the brand name of a particular vendor’s system. “Student response system” is also a useful term, but it doesn’t highlight the use of these systems in the classroom and could refer to an online response system of some kind.