logo Clicker Response Patterns

How should you react in class when students respond?  Assuming you are asking “normal” multiple choice questions which have a preferred answer, these four generic response patterns illustrated below can be expected. The correct answer is circled in red. Suggested tactics are given in the table, BUT you should study the clicker resource guide and talk to experienced clicker users to build up some skills. This is not a trivial game for instructors, but well worth getting good at.


1. Mainly correct

mainly right

  • Start by NOT revealing the correct answer.
  • Ask “Why do you think someone might have chosen C?
  • Get 2-3 explanations from students, then move on.
  • Avoid the temptation to do all the explaining. 
  • OR … simply say “Seems that was too easy – lets move on …”, THEN re-evaluate what this question was for next time you use it.

2. Mainly wrong

mainly wrong

  • Do not necessarily reveal the answer right away.
  • Ask “Why do you think someone might have chosen A?”  Then again for “B”. When misconceptions are discovered, use them as a positive source of inspiration for discussion or explanation.
  • OR … You could carry out a mini lecture or demonstration & then have students vote again.
  • IF this response was a solo (no discussion) attempt for students, consider following up by having students discuss with a neighbour, then vote again.

3. Bimodal


  • Focus on BOTH preferred answers to reveal sources of misconception without revealing the answer – yet.
  • Otherwise, consider similar tactics to type 2.


4. Random


  • Ask “Can we eliminate any of these choices?
  • OR … “Let's see how you are making decisions …?
  • Same tactics as type 2.

Survey or Opinion Questions

NOTE the possible tactics may not be appropriate for survey or opinion type questions, or for questions where there is more than one correct response, or all responses are intentionally wrong. If you use any of these types of questions (more than one right, or all wrong), do it regularly (even if rarely). Don’t do it only once – students will see that as “playing tricks”. They don’t like that. More resources can be found at CWSEI's clicker web page.