Council recommends using CPS keypads next semester

Megan Whinnery

Students using personal keypads in classes won’t have to worry about buying more than one remote starting next semester.

The University Council on Technology recently decided to recommend Classroom Performance System keypads, making them the only response system used at Kent State.

“We needed to develop an institutional path to follow so students didn’t have to buy two keypads,” said Laura Davis, associate provost for planning and academic resource management. “I feel confident the work that went into the study will benefit students.”

J. Mark Pike, assistant dean for media services, ran the year-long study that tested two types of personal response systems. The study compared the CPS system with a similar keypad system called Turning Point. Both systems were tested in various classes to determine which system best met the needs of Kent State.

“The process the group went through was a model in decision making,” Davis said.

Accounting lecturer Wendy Tietz used both systems in her accounting class, but said she preferred the CPS systems for several reasons. One reason was CPS keypads used standard batteries, but the Turning Point system used a special battery that required a screwdriver to be able to replace it.

Another reason the CPS system is preferable is because the Turning Point System didn’t let students know if their answer was submitted, Tietz said.

“CPS makes it very clear when a student has answered,” she said. “There are two colored lights on the clicker to indicate the response was received. The Turning Point clicker only had one light, not good for students who are colorblind.”

A third reason Tietz preferred the CPS system is because it’s more transportable.

“Turning Point was more cumbersome to use because everything had to be loaded onto the computer before class. With the CPS system, I could take everything I needed to class on a jump drive,” she said.

Loading everything on a jump drive also made the CPS system more secure since nothing was left on the computer, Tietz said.

Another reason CPS was recommended was the size of the keypad, Pike said. The Turning Point keypads are about the same size as a credit card, which made them easier to lose. The CPS keypads were about the size of a television remote control.

Joseph Ortiz, associate professor of geology, used the Turning Point system in his oceanography course and liked the size of the keypads.

“Personally, I liked the compact size of the devices,” he said. “They were quite robust really, one student had her puppy chew one up and it still worked.”

Ortiz did note some technical problems when registering the Turning Point keypads.

“They were supposed to interface easily with WebCT, but due to security concerns, that feature has not been enabled on the campus,” Ortiz said. “As a result, I had to personally register all of the devices.”

Although Ortiz never used the CPS system, he said he is willing to try it out.

“I have not used the CPS system previously, but I am willing to try that system because it sounds very similar to the one I used,” he said.

Although personal keypads are becoming more popular at Kent State, they are primarily used in business, communications and chemistry classes because of the way the classes are structured.

“I think personal keypads will be an important trend in higher education. The key will be figuring out how to provide the devices in a cost-effective way,” he said. “From a teaching standpoint, I found it very useful to gauge student understanding frequently during the lecture.”

Both Ortiz and Tietz agree the keypads are beneficial for large classes because it allows students to engage in the material.

“The system makes large classes more interactive,” Tietz said. “The instant feedback is the real value.”

Contact academic computing beat reporter Megan Whinnery at [email protected].