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Classroom Response System Augments Lectures

Issue 32, Winter 2005

by Nancy Grayum and Patricia LeClaire

Use of Western’s Classroom Response System (CRS) which utilizes InterWrite PRS software and hand-held transmitters, is gradually increasing and has been met with growing enthusiasm by both faculty members and students.

The use of handheld numeric transmitters has offered students a new mode of offering opinions or feedback anonymously to questions posed by their instructor. The transmitters not only provide the opportunity to select answers, but also to indicate one’s own confidence level–high, medium or low–for each response. Once the response signal has been sent to the receivers, now installed in 31 general university classrooms, the results are instantly tabulated and displayed to the class in graphical form via computer software and projection.

Guide Discussion, Gauge Understanding
A faculty member in a Sociology class may ask an opinion question related to a controversial issue and graphically present the opinion pattern of the group of students without revealing the preferences of each individual.

Psychology instructors have used CRS strategies to instantly create a psychological profile for a class based on completion of particular tests used to teach psychology concepts.

Professor Alejandro Acevedo, Biology, was interested in asking a question of students at the beginning of class to assess their understanding of a crucial concept. “Then,” he says, “I would repeat the question to see if their conceptions had changed after the lecture and discussion of ideas. I had been doing this by hand-raising, but then Janice Lapsansky told me about CRS; since then I have been using it. It is a very powerful tool that allows me to exactly gauge understanding as well as confidence levels. Great pedagogical tool.”

CRS Utilizes PRS Software from InterWrite
The CRS software, InterWrite PRS for Windows, has been upgraded during the past year to support the incorporation of questions into PowerPoint presentations. The InterWrite PRS website provides an overview, online tutorials, and other features that faculty members may want to browse before deciding whether to use the system in class.

PRS software version 3.03 is installed on all general university classroom computers, and can be obtained for your desktop at no charge by contacting Jim Ullin, ATUS Software Support, at 650-3159.

To ensure that the version on your computer always matches that installed by ATUS on classroom computers, please obtain the software and upgrades from Jim Ullin rather than downloading it directly from the InterWrite PRS web site.

Students using CRS

Students use handheld transmitters to register responses in class.

Once you have installed the software, you have the choice of creating Lessons and Sessions (question sets) directly within the PRS application, or you can embed your questions within a PowerPoint presentation which will integrate seamlessly within PRS. If you are new to Classroom Response Systems, using the PowerPoint approach provides the easiest and fastest way to begin creative use of this teaching resource:

  • On launch, PowerPoint will detect that you have PRS installed on your computer and will give you an additional toolbar for generating PRS-compatible content.
  • You can mix-and-match everything that you normally do in PowerPoint with PRS-compatible questions
  • The PRS-compatible slides will contain the PRS logo allowing you to quickly confirm which slides are available for student feedback using the hand-held transmitters and will provide a graphical representation of student responses.
  • You can enhance existing PowerPoint presentations by adding PRS-compatible slides.
  • You can create PowerPoint presentations at any time, and anywhere (your home or office computer or laptop) and make them available to your CRS classroom using the PowerPoint presentation from the U: drive, from a zip disk, etc.
  • When you click on the PowerPoint presentation, PRS will automatically launch.

One hundred laminated QuickStart Guides for students, and enough QuickStart Faculty Manuals for each CRS-enabled classroom, are being developed by Emily Walner and Rachel Shaw, students in Denise Weeks’ ENGLISH 402 Technical Documentation course. The Guides and the Manuals will be stored in campus Media Closets with the PRS transmitters.

ATUS Instructional Designer, Patricia LeClaire will offer workshops during spring quarter for faculty members who have interest in integrating the CRS into their teaching and learning strategies.

CRS and Transmitter Locations

In the past year, with the completion of the Communications Facility and with a grant from the Student Technology Fee Committee, 26 additional classrooms have been equipped for support of the Classroom Response system, for a total of 31. (See chart below.)

Classroom Response System Locations (and media closets where transmitters are stored for each classroom)
Please call Classroom Services, 650-3300, to reserve transmitters
LocationsSeatsMedia Closet and Number of
Transmitters Stored There
AH 4 101 AH 106 (101)
AH 219 50 AH 106 (101)
BH 112 56 BH 107A (56)
BI 212 64 BI 203 (100)
BI 234 100 BI 203 (100)
CB 285 49 CB 202 (49)
ES 80 47 ES 61 (47)
FR 3 179 MH 163 (185)
HH 153 61 HH 153 cabinet (61)
HU 108 42 HU 104A (50)
HU 110 50 HU 104A (50)
MH 163 170 MH 163 (185)
MH 166 50 MH 163 (185)
OM 330A 49 OM 330B (49)
OM 330C 47 OM 330B (49)
PH 146 126 PH 104A (126)
PH 244 49 PH 104A (126)
CF 23 30 CF 18 (50)
CF 25 50 CF 18 (50)
CF 105 75 CF 117 (250)
CF 110 100 CF 117 (250)
CF 115 150 CF 117 (250)
CF 120 100 CF 117 (250)
CF 125 75 CF 117 (250)
CF 224 30 CF 215 (85)
CF 225 40 CF 215 (85)
CF 226 50 CF 215 (85)
CF 227 40 CF 215 (85)
CF 314 35 CF 317 (60)

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