Return to All Teaching Guides

benefits of peer instruction

In this video, Harvard Physics Professor Eric Mazur shares the story of the moment he realized his outstanding teaching reviews were not actually resulting in the student learning outcomes he believed he was achieving – a harsh wake-up call that led him to discover the teaching strategy he named “peer instruction”.

What is peer instruction? Peer instruction refers to the practice of students learning through discussion with peers.

Why use peer instruction? It is one of the most research-validated forms of active learning; the “Research” tab at this AAPT link includes a long list of studies supporting the practice.

Education Tech for Polling and Interaction


Explore the toggles below to learn about the best practices for implementing polling in your course, as well as guides for setting up iClicker, and information on various polling technologies.

This video shows an example of active learning with polling: 


Advantages and Disadvantages in Polling

This article summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of using a clicker-like polling technology over flashcards or hands. None of these are magically achieved by the clicker itself. They are achieved – or not achieved – entirely by what you do in implementation. 

How to Set Up iClicker at UCLA

Installation and Connecting to Bruin Learn


We HIGHLY recommend you schedule a time to set-up your clicker with UCLA’s iClicker representative. They can meet with you over Zoom to help you install the software, connect to the gradebook in Bruin Learn, and practice launching a poll and syncing to the gradebook. 

Contact:Jennie Ribera,

If you prefer to try it on your own, you can access iClicker’s “Getting Started” guide.

Picking up an Instructor Kit

You can pick up an instructor kit at the CEILS office, 222 Hershey Hall. Please contact to schedule a time to stop by.

Consultation on Question Design/Pedagogical Practices for Using iClicker and other Polling Tools

A member of the CEILS team would be happy to meet with you and discuss some best practices for designing engaging questions to use with polling software. Contact to schedule a consultation.

Do students need a remote or can they use their phone?

Students can utilize a physical remote or they can use the mobile app. Note that using the mobile application will provide you a bit more flexibility in the question type (beyond multiple choice), however sticking to multiple choice can still meet your needs and create significant discussion and engagement.

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT) has a limited number of iClicker student remotes available for rental:

Additional iClicker Resources

Additional Resources:

See sample syllabus text when using iclicker –> “Course Materials” section

Clicker Resource Guide

Writing Great Questions for Peer Instruction

Thought Questions- A New Approach to Using Clickers Teresa Foley & Pei-San Tsai

Niemeyer & Zewail-Foote (2018, Journal of Chemical Education) found that compared to men, women had significantly higher perceptions of the benefits of clickers and their ability to increase student engagement.

Want even more information? The Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative has a great collection of polling tool resources.

Polling Applications for Smart Phones and Other Devices

Interested in alternative polling tools to i>clicker?

There are several free or low-cost polling tools for your smart phone or other electronic device. Note that some UCLA faculty have reported experiencing wi-fi issues when trying to use these online polling applications (i>clicker uses radio frequency rather than a wi-fi signal and thus bypasses this issue). That being said, if you opt to try an alternative polling system, please test the online application prior to use in a specific classroom, especially if implementing the technology in a large class.  Note that we also suggest using these online polling tools at workshops and conferences — they provide an excellent way to make your seminar talks interactive!

Here are some polling tool alternatives to i>clicker:

  • ABCD Card App for Smartphones
    • Visit and download app from iTunes or Google Play.
    • Developed by Western Washington University, this simple app allows students to project a bright selected choice (ABCD?) on their phone and hold up for you to see.
  • Socrative
    • Visit to learn more about the tool and its features, view a demo, create an account, and see pricing options for a PRO account.
  • Online Polling Tool (OPT)
  • Poll Everywhere
  • Kahoot!
    • Visit to access the tool and see a video showing the various learning environments where this tool has been used.
  • Plickers
  • Mentimeter
Tech-Free Voting Cards for Student Polling


We recommend using iClicker software if possible in order to not only view student responses, but also to be able to analyze the results of your polling by individual student or the class as a whole and award participation points.

However, if you would prefer a non-technology option or want to provide non-technology options to your TAs for their discussion sections, you can use these voting cards. Either print them for students or ask students to print (in color!) and bring one to all classes.

These cards can be folded and held up during class as you ask multiple choice questions.