Response cards are a way of actively engaging students in learning while also checking for understanding. They can provide an option for supporting students’ learning that causes less anxiety and more engagement than calling on individual students to respond to questions.
In a response card activity, all students in the class write their responses to a question on a card or use a pre-printed card. The students hold up the response card for the teacher to see and the teacher provides feedback to the whole group.
Using the response cards
Response cards are a way for students to answer questions, in a group, non-verbally. Response options should be limited to no more than 4 possible responses. Steps for implementing the strategy include:
- Choose the type of response card you want to use. Options include;
- laminated cards or white boards with dry-erase markers to write answers
- cards labelled ‘A,B,C and D’ for responding to multiple choice questions
- green and red cards to indicate ‘yes’ and ‘no’
- smiley faces (happy, neutral, puzzled) to allow students to convey their feelings about the information or their confidence in their learning e.g. a puzzled face might mean ‘I need more help’.
- Teach students how to use the response cards when
- the teacher asks a question that can be answered by response cards, the teacher tells the students to write down their answers or choose a card
- teacher prompts students to hold up the card indicating their response e.g. a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ by saying ‘cards up’
- students do not look at each other’s cards
- the teacher has looked at all the responses, the teacher says ‘cards down’ and cards are placed faced down on the desk.
- Teachers provide feedback on the responses to the whole group. Individuals are not singled out. Feedback can be positive or corrective.
Response cards can be used during different parts of a teaching session, including;
- at the start of the lesson to activate prior knowledge
- during teaching to check knowledge
- at the end of class to evaluate learning of key facts.
Response cards can allow teachers to assess learning across a class and to provide feedback to groups or to the whole class. Research studies have looked at the impact of using response cards (in contrast to raising hands) and found improved scores on maths and vocabulary tasks and improved levels of engagement and responding.
Response cards can be used from early schooling to check knowledge and understanding with appropriate adaptations made according to the age and understanding of the group.
- Preschool: Possibly
- P–2: Yes
- 3–6: Yes
- High school: Yes