SMART Response or BAD Assessment??

I’m having an debate right now inside my head.

A staff member at school went to a workshop where people who attended could receive significant discounts on SMART Response systems.  Upon investigation, it is a significant deal – over 75% off the regular price.  However, the final cost will still be around $1300 plus taxes for 32 units.

Don’t get me wrong – I love deals.  However, I’m not a fan of these (except for ongoing, realtime diagnostic assessment.)  In a study done by P. Rovnak for Full Sail University, it is suggested that…

“interactive response systems help increase student learning and enhance teachers’ ability to target areas of concern. Interactive response systems allow students to respond immediately to questions and enable teachers to give fast feedback. Without having to wait until tests and quizzes are graded, teachers can quickly adapt their teaching to address gaps in learning before moving on to more advanced lesson” Rovnak, P. (2009). Immediate Feedback: Student Response Systems. (Unpublished master’s thesis). Full Sail University, Winter Park, FL

The study, posted on SMART’s website,  claims to show an increase in student “growth” of about 20-50% depending on the grade level.  I get it – but also wonder how this would compare when doing a side-by-side comparison with Apple’s iPod Touch (with the option to get SMART Response VE setup to still utilize the software).  Where is the differentiation?  multi-modality assessment?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to purchase something that does this real-time assessment plus lots more?

I created the following list pros and cons, with the help of @rwettlaufer, for SMART Response systems and the iPod Touch.  In my mind, the Touch is the way to go.  Am I missing something?

Item Pros Cons

$1300/kit (on sale)

app $5000/kit of 32 reg. price

  • one system that coordinates data collection
  • simplicity
  • single use (with Smart Response Software)
  • replacement batteries
  • limits learning to the classroom (collaboration)
  • maintenance and upkeep
  • staff required to learn another piece of software
  • uni-directional –
  • one size fits all for student learning
  • only allows students to express what they already know

iPod Touch


  • multi-use – internet, camera, video, documents, research, etc.
  • essentially creates a second portable computer lab
  • App Store with bulk purchases
  • expressive and receptive
  • can charge
  • Intuitive touch screen allows students/staff to learn quickly
  • Promotes research and inquiry – challenge based learning
  • eBooks and Audio Books
  • Allows for differentiation (Dragon)
  • Used anywhere with a Wifi connection
  • Smart Response Software can be used with the purchase of Smart Response VE – or answer on Google Forms for free!
  • cost
  • maintenance and upkeep
  • training for staff may be more time consuming
  • small screen



2 thoughts on “SMART Response or BAD Assessment??

  1. I think you are missing a lot of what the SMART Response system can actually do. I spent some time in Google Forms after I came across this blog.

    The SMART Response software features a Gradebook, that stores student information for multiple assessments. That means automatic grading for each individual assessment, as well as averages for the whole semester or year.

    The SMART Response software also allows teachers to analyze data over the course of a grading period, or by an entire year. The ability to automatically compile data and set the parameters for this data, trumps the idea of Google forms, which as far as I can tell, only stores Data from one particular assessment. Educators are able to assess data by student, by assessment, or by class and content area. With Google forms, educators are limited in the types of data, and that information would still have to be compiled manually over the course of the grading period.

    • Thanks for the comment Victoria!

      I am interested in playing more with the SMART Response software however don’t feel as though the assessment gathered using the response systems is always the most meaningful type of assessment.

      Let’s face it – multiple guess stinks.

      However, I respect your opinions and appreciate your experimenting with Google Forms compared to SMART Response.


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