Friday, 4 September 2015

Socrative, by Chris Little

‘Clickerless Clickers’
Socrative is a student response system, much like TurningPoint. However, Socrative’s main USP is that no institutionally-bought devices or accounts are required to use it. Students respond to questions using their mobile devices. They simply need an internet browser to access.

For staff, a ‘teacher’ account is completely free with an educational email address. The software is web-based (found at and intuitive to use. A brief summary of its features from a teacher/lecturer/facilitator perspective is:

  • You create your own room. Students simply go to and log into your room. Mine, for example, is imaginatively called ChrisRoom. This log-in process means that facilitating learners to use this software is quicker and simpler than the TurningPoint clicker devices, particularly for large groups.
  • You can create polling quizzes containing multiple choice, true/false and short answer/open text responses to questions. Creating these quizzes is incredibly simply and you can drag and drop questions into different orders. Quizzes can also be student or teacher paced.
  • You can pre-enter automated responses to questions to elaborate on the question after students have answered.
  • Additionally you can create quick polling questions whilst teaching. You could write the question on the board then simply choose a true or false question on Socrative and see the polling results on the screen. This could allow you to change your teaching strategy mid class.
  • Socrative also allows you to share these quizzes with colleagues via a share code that they simply enter in their Socrative ‘dashboard’ and it copies the quiz directly across.
  • You can download your quizzes as polished, slick-looking pdf copies for students to use the paper-format.
  • Quizzes can be created so that learners remain anonymous or have to enter their name first.
  • Socrative will produce an Excel, or Google Doc, spreadsheet containing the data from the session which would open it up to many possible uses- gathering data for research, module evaluations, etc.

For students, Socrative is easy to use and offers an attractive user interface. When quizzes are teacher-paced, you control when students have the questions sent to their phones. The following screenshots show the Socrative interface for learners whilst waiting for a question and when responding:

The above screenshots show what the student sees when they are waiting for you to ’send’ a question, and when it appears. The interface is simple and easy to interact with for both staff and students and has been well received.

The following video sums up how to use Socrative fairly succinctly:

Why use it?

Student response systems (SRS), such as Socrative or TurningPoint Clickers, have been found to be useful, and offer significant opportunities to demonstrate understanding, provide immediate feedback for both learners and lecturers and have been seen to be positively associated with exam scores (Trees & Jackson, 2007). Heaslip et al (2014) also found that students became more engaged when clickers were used in lectures than when they were not present. Additionally, they found that students appreciated how ‘fun’ using clickers can be, and the anonymity they can afford.

However, these effects have not been without confounding variables. The implementation of SRS has been found to be indicative of wider attempts to engage students in formative questioning in weekly activities, as well as taught sessions (Poirier & Feldman, 2007). Additionally, Morling et al (2008) found that the impact of clickers could be confounded by the presentation of questions. For Morling et al, the presentation of questions is what spurs further learning and highlights gaps in knowledge to learners, not necessarily the use of clickers. Anthis (2011) study suggests that, in fact there is no statistical link between clicker use and exam scores, and further pedagogical investigation is required in order to understand the true impact of clickers.

For many lecturers, clickers et al provide a platform for immediate feedback, recapping learning and providing an insight into how your teaching is ‘going’. For us at least, Socrative has provided a platform to engage lots of users in a quick and effective way. Even with the patchiest of wi-fi connections (particularly in CBC rooms) Socrative still worked. Additionally, we have seen students seem a little ‘bored’ by TurningPoint and this does the same thing but in a fresher way.

TurningPoint is great and definitely still has uses. It’s integration with PowerPoint is particularly useful. However, colleagues have reported problems with TurningPoint interacting in difficult ways with their remote presenter devices, not installing correctly on machines and other problems. Additionally, both the Student Learning team and colleagues who have tried Socrative, have found that the fact it does not integrate with PowerPoint is actually a positive. For me it stops me relying on my slides and can often lead to students feeling they are driving the direction of the class. Colleagues have found the same: that not relying on PowerPoint slides frees them up to respond to the class more and almost form a user-led free-form class. This is obviously not applicable to every class, all of the time, but a nice option to have.

How we use it?

Example teaching strategies we have used it in are:
  • Recap quiz - In order to ascertain understanding of lectured material in a session for the Management School we have deployed Socrative as a means of testing how much material students remember at the end of the session. Additionally we have used it in in Criminology sessions as a way of recapping referencing systems in the run up to an assignment, this allowed us to flush out issues that Level 4 students had with referencing before the assignment. 
  • Self-Audit Free-Form Class - In order to facilitate a self-audit activity, we have used Socrative to not only direct a free for, class responding to the feedback of the group, but this also allowed us to highlight the existing knowledge, or lack thereof, about our central services. 

Student feedback, specifically around the Socrative parts of our sessions have been positive. As with clickers, students have found the interactivity and possible anonymity to be positive:
  • ‘It made me realise others were struggling too’ Y1 Social Work student 
  • ‘Learning that there is additional help available via socrative’ Y1 MAN10018 student 
  • ‘Very interactive and fun’ Y1 MAN10018 student 

It is not, however, bulletproof and dependant on the university's wi-fi strength, which is not always foolproof, as indicated by student comments indicating what would improve the sessions including Socrative:
  • 'A stronger internet connection’ Y1 Social Work student 
  • ‘Phone would not work in socrative section’ Y1 Criminology student 

Despite the above, for us it has been hugely successful in highlighting how well our central services have been promoted and advertised, as well as flushing out transitional issues and opportunities for support. Using it as a ‘taking stock’ self-audit strategy has been extremely effective. Given its capacity to produce a report there could be potential in completing module/ teaching evaluations through it. Additionally, while the website advises that Socrative is designed for 50 students, we have had significant success with groups up to 100.

Socrative continually works as a way of engaging groups of varying sizes as well as encouraging me to ditch the PowerPoint slides from time to time, forcing me to think on my feet and respond to each individual group in front of me. If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to get in touch. Additionally, Dervan (2014) offers a comprehensive review of use of Socrative as well as a thorough walk-through of the features of Socrative: well worth a read.


Anthis, K. (2011). “Is it the clicker, or is it the question? Untangling the effects of students response system use”. Teaching of Psychology. 38 (3): 189-193.

Dervan, P. (2014) "Increasing in-class student engagement using Socrative (an online Student Response System)." AISHE-J: The All Ireland Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. 6 (3).

Heaslip, G., Donovan, P. & Cullen, J. G. (2014) “Student response systems and learner engagement in large classes”. Active Learning in Higher Education. 15 (1): 11-24.

Morling, B. McAuliffe, M., Cohne, L. & Di Lorenzo, T. M. (2008) “Efficacy of personal response systems (“Clickers”) in large, introductory psychology classes”. Teaching of Psychology. 35 (1): 45-50.

Poirer, C. R. & Feldmann, R. S. (2007) “Promoting active learning using individual response technology in large introductory psychology classes”. Teaching of Psychology. 34 (3): 194-196.

Socrative. (2014). About Socrative. [Online]. [Accessed 5th February 20115]. Available from:

Trees, A. R. & Jackson, M. H. (2007). “The learning environment in clicker classrooms: Student processes of learning and involvement in large university-level courses using student-response systems”. Learning, Media & Technology. 32 (1): 21-40.

Creative Commons License
Socrative by Chris Little, Keele University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.