Systems of Support Supporting Educator Excellence through Technology and Strategy

Using Response Cards in the Classroom

Response cards are must have tools for any learning environment. This easy to implement learning strategy will make an immediate impact with your students.  Remember that the research demonstrates learning increases as correct responding increases. That is why stand and deliver lecture only (which most educators over-rely on) is such a bad idea. Think about it for a second. How many questions does your typical “lecture based” teacher ask during a lesson? Many times there are relatively few, and the ones asked are directed toward: a) the students who know the answer or b) the students the teacher is trying to get back on task. Not the most effective use of questioning. Recall from your university coursework that the basic unit of learning:

Instructional prompt – Student response – Teacher feedback.

Ensuring that an adequate number of instructional prompts (e.g., verbal, written) are delivered and efficient feedback provided based upon student responding is critical. Response cards help this process be efficient.


Here’s how response cards work:

1. During instruction, the educator delivers a question to the entire class or small group (instructional prompt). This can be a verbal question, written on the board, or even displayed through PowerPoint.

2. Students respond via one of the 3 different types of response cards

– write on response card (a small piece of dry erase board, a sheet protector with a piece of blank paper in the sleeve)

– printed response card (see attached below)

– digital response system (a individual remote that allows students to individually respond and their response displays on the screen)

3. Teacher provides feedback on student responding. Be immediate, specific, and consistent.


Now what? Practically, I use the 80/20 rule. If 80% or more of the learners respond correctly, I move forward and will catch up those who didn’t during small group work time. If less than 80% get it right, then I do whole group reteaching. This allows us to be instructionally efficient – moving forward when the students are ready and camping out when they are not. Remember, student performance is what should drive out instruction. It is critical that we know our learners. Using this strategy will help you get some time back in your schedule.


Want to know more? Here are two literature reviews that have uncovered the effectiveness of response cards.

Horn, C. K. (2010). Response cards: An effective intervention for students with disabilities. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 45(1), 116-123.

Randolph, J. J. (2007). Meta-analysis of the research on response cards: Effects on test achievement, quiz achievement, participation, and off-task behavior. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 9, 113–128.


Want to give it a shot? I’ve attached a .pdf of the Response Card I’ve used in learning Environments. Just print it off and fold it in half. Your ready to go!


About Jason Gibson

Jason Gibson is a learning and behavioral consultant working with schools and treatment facilities across the US supporting children and adolescents with cognitive, social, emotional and behavioral issues. His focus is on practical implementation of research informed practices to increase outcomes for learners with and without disabilities. With degrees in psychology, social work, and education, Jason’s peer-reviewed research has been published in journals such as “Topics in Early Childhood Special Education”, “Closing the Gap”, and “Education and Treatment of Children with Developmental Disabilities”. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Kentucky writing his dissertation on the Efficacy of Online Professional Development to Increase Implementation of Stimulus Preference Assessments. In addition to his consulting work, Jason is the director of the BabbCenter and provides guidance to one of the leading counseling centers that operates from a faith-based perspective. Jason grew up in Titusville, FL and prior to moving to the Nashville area, made central Kentucky his home for 8 years.

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