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Colleges and universities continue to focus considerable effort on supporting first-year students on their journey to academic success. Many campuses look to academic indicators like midterm deficiencies to flag students in need of support. But, changing the trajectory of a first year student’s academic performance in the second half of a term can be difficult. What insights are available on earlier indicators of academic issues?


This research note highlight insights on early course struggles using a national survey administered three to five weeks into the academic year. The findings are drawn from a national dataset of responses from nearly 11,000 new college students at eight U.S. colleges and universities to the Benchworks New Student Assessment during fall 2019.


Natalie Dougall, Faculty Advocate and iClicker Trainer, discusses best practices for onboarding your students with iClicker in a virtual classroom. She shows how you can incorporate iClicker into your course with minimal fuss, provides methods for getting students started with the iClicker Reef app, and shares some icebreaker activities that get students comfortable in your class and using iClicker.

Access the recording!


Instructors who had been using iClicker Classic in face-to-face classes can seamlessly transition to a virtual classroom without having to switch to a new software. Senior Client Relationship Specialist Kelly Morrow shows iClicker Classic users how to enable Reef in their course settings and explain to students the steps to switch from physical clickers to the iClicker Reef web/mobile app.

Access the recording today!



Lindsey Thomas


Training and Documentation Manager


Kelly Morrow


Senior Client Relationship Specialist

Sara Jo Lee

iClicker Cloud Training

Posted by Sara Jo Lee Apr 3, 2020

iClicker Learning Solutions Specialist Alana Craig hosts a special iClicker Cloud instructor training webinar, which covers the nuts and bolts of setting up your iClicker Cloud account and course, downloading the software, and using the software for polling, quizzing, and attendance in a virtual classroom.

Access the recording today!

Congratulations to the winners of our Fall 2019 Driven to #AchieveMore contest! 

Below are names of the winners and links to all their submissions:



1st Place - Candice Floyd

2nd Place - Meagan Smith

3rd Place - Edith Hill



1st Place - Dorit Dahan Ellenbogen

2nd Place - Brittany Nackley

3rd Place - Sherry Yi



1st Place - Christie Kleinmann

2nd Place - Jessica Dennis

3rd Place - Argentina Wortham


If you want to learn more about the contest and submit your own inspirational story, visit our website!

In recent years, housing and residence life programs have put increased effort and attention towards improving the experience and process of room assignments. With the utilization of new technologies to assist, on-campus residents often play a more active role in selecting the residence halls, rooms, and even roommates. Therefore, having an understanding of how students perceive these processes and how their satisfaction with room assignment relates to their broader housing experience is crucial.

This research note explores the topic of room assignment, including the types of processes used, satisfaction with the process, and satisfaction with the outcome of the process. The findings are drawn from a national dataset of responses from 260,000 on-campus residents at nearly 250 U.S. institutions to the ACUHO-I/ Benchworks Resident Assessment during the 2018- 2019 academic year.


Key Questions:
  1. How satisfied were residents with room assignment processes and outcomes?
  2. How did room assignment satisfaction relate to the overall housing experience?
  3. How frequently did residents have input in the room assignment process?
  4. How did room assignment process type relate to room assignment satisfaction?
  5. How did room assignment process type relate to the overall housing experience?


Exciting Summer/Fall 2019 Updates


iClicker ScreenshotiClicker Screenshot 2iClicker Screenshot 3

Manage distractions & mitigate multitasking in your classroom with new feature options, tailored to your technology choices. With the new iClicker Cloud 5.0 desktop software, all your in-class tools are in one place, which means more time for teaching. Getting started has never been this easy. See the onboarding improvements we’re making for Fall.



Classroom distractions have met their match.

Meet iClicker Focus and Remote-Only courses.


Getting the most out of valuable face-to-face time can be challenging with busy students multitasking and the various distractions in play during class time. So we’re introducing a few new features to manage classroom distractions this year, with flexible technology options that allow you to choose what’s right for your classroom.

iClicker Focus

Beta testing in Fall 2019, available January 2020

We know that many instructors would like the increased functionality that comes with a mobile student engagement app, but can have concerns about the use of mobile phones in the classroom. Enter iClicker Focus. With Focus, you can:


  • Reduce distractions & multitasking
  • Gain insight into engagement in your class
  • Promote student self-regulation behaviors


By Spring of 2020, instructors will have the option to designate any course to run as a “Focused Class” via their course settings and choose an allowed level of device usage. Focus provides insight for instructors and students around engagement in class via post-class reporting.


Focus Mode 1Focus Mode 2


Remote-Only Courses

Now live!

Now in iClicker Cloud, instructors have the choice to specify that students only use iClicker remotes in their course. Our new Remote-Only mode allows instructors to disable the use of mobile devices in the classroom - students, however, will still have access to all iClicker Reef data in their app.


iClicker ScreenshotiClicker Screenshot 2iClicker Screenshot 3



We’re rolling out the welcome mat.

Whether instructor or student, we’ve improved our processes to ensure that everyone has a smooth start.


Instructor Onboarding ImprovementsComing in August


This fall, iClicker begins the process of rolling out onboarding systems improvements. Our sights are set on making it even easier to control enrollments to match LMS rosters and, in the near future, for instructors to create courses in iClicker Cloud. Keep your eyes peeled for updates!


Student Onboarding ImprovementsComing in Fall

Students want easy, so we’re bringing it. We're improving the student onboarding experience, making it easier for students to sign up and get started in your course.

All Your Tools In One Place, More Time For Teaching

Starting a class session and running activities using iClicker is now quicker, easier, and more intuitive.

New Instructor Experience for iClicker Cloud





"What’s New in iClicker Cloud 5.0?"

Engage your students using the desktop software for in-class activities.

"The iClicker Cloud desktop software is your hub for in-class activities. Polling, quizzing, and attendance are streamlined into one, simplified toolbar. The desktop software contains all the you need to see your attendees, view participation, and grade your questions during class."

Sign-in to the instructor website to access course data, anytime, anywhere.

"Tasks commonly completed outside of class, such as roster management and grading past sessions, are now exclusively available at the instructor website. Links to these features are available within the desktop software."



Try it out!

Download the new iClicker Cloud 5.0


Note: Students using iClicker Reef on a mobile device should update to the most recent version of the app for the best experience. Students using iPhones are strongly encouraged to update to version 5.2.3 of iClicker Reef (released Feb 28).


iClicker Cloud 5.0 is a new, separate version of the desktop software. All users will need to download the Full version of 5.0 (even if you have already installed iClicker Cloud 4.6 or the Beta version of 5.0).


iClicker Cloud 5.0 is a required update for Fall 2019 courses. You’ll have until mid-August to make the switch, so you can continue using your current version of iClicker Cloud (4.6) for your summer courses.

Enhanced Grade Sync | Release 4.6


Support for Blackboard and Canvas available this Fall with more coming soon.

iClicker's easy-to-use multi-column grade sync experience provides instructors much more flexibility in setting up and syncing grades to their LMS. With this update, instructors will be able to sync grades for individual sessions or as a combined total, as well as sync session points rather than percentage.

5.0 Grade Sync



Changes to the Instructor Website | Release 5.0

Version 5.0 will launch exciting changes to the iClicker Cloud instructor website that are currently available in preview mode, including the ability to view or edit session details and grades from the new Session History section. Some of the significant updates include:

  • A simplified Gradebook will summarize grade totals only. Individual session details can still be accessed under Session History.
  • New Class Sessions will allow you to switch between polls and quizzes in a single session without prompting students to re-join your session. Class sessions will also be integrated with taking Attendance so you will no longer need to launch separate Attendance sessions. Simply start your class and Attendance will automatically run.

5.0 Class Started

5.0 History Scores

5.0 Gradebook

5.0 History Grading


All Activities... in One Session | Release 5.0

Polling, quizzing and attendance will soon be launched from a single iClicker Cloud session, making it easier for instructors to conduct in-class activities and for students to participate in polls, quizzes and attendance.

5.0 Courses

Simple, Elegant Instructor Interface | Release 5.0

We are excited to be developing a more modern and streamlined experience for instructors in both the desktop software and the instructor website. Set to go live in January 2019, the new user interface will launch a fresh design and improvements to window management so instructors can focus less on our software and more on in-class activities.

Expanded Student Study Capabilities


NEW! Digital flashcards

Students can easily create and curate flashcards around concepts they most need to practice and review to create a more focused, customized study experience, right from their mobile devices.


Flash cards In Phone


Modernized and streamlined instructor options


NEW! Run and manage polling session and class presentation from mobile devices

Instructors no longer have to be tethered to a desktop. Polling session and your presentation can be managed including monitoring and sharing results, tracking which students have responded and reviewing questions in the active polling session, all from a mobile device.

PLEASE NOTE: The iClicker Cloud Mobile instructor app requires iClicker Cloud 4.2.2 or newer

4.3 Release Instructor Mobile


PREVIEW! New elegant, modern instructor web experience

Instructors can preview the modern, streamlined navigation and design of the iClicker web experience going live for Fall 2018. Instructors can get a jumpstart on familiarizing themselves with the new, easy-to-use experience prior to the mandatory update for Fall courses.


4.3 Release Interface


Enhanced instructor communication with iClicker product team


NEW! Give Feedback button

When using the new modern, streamlined preview experience, instructors can provide direct feedback to the iClicker product team via the “Give Feedback” button in the left navigation bar making it even easier for instructors and technologists to provide insight and feedback on the iClicker experience.

4.3 Release Feedback


Improved accessibility for students and instructors

We continue to make steady progress to ensure that iClicker and its supporting applications are aligned to WCAG 2.0 accessibility standards as closely as possible. The March 2018 release includes numerous screen-reader and keyboard accessibility improvements to the instructor and student websites.


4.3 Release Accessibility

For many students living on campus, the roommate relationship plays an important role in their housing experience and the benefits associated with it. Many institutions now encourage or even require residents to complete roommate agreements not only to support roommate relationships but also as an educational strategy to support student learning. How do these agreements relate to resident satisfaction and learning outcomes?


During the 2018-2019 academic year, Skyfactor piloted a series of new questions related to academic initiatives. As part of this pilot, Skyfactor tested a question asking whether or not residents completed a roommate agreement during the current academic year. This research note highlights results from this pilot, in particular exploring roommate agreements and how they related to the broader on-campus housing experience.


Key Questions:
1. How many residents completed a roommate agreement?
2. How do roommate agreement completion rates differ across populations?
3. How did roommate agreement completion relate to satisfaction with housing?
4. How did roommate agreement completion relate to student learning?


Teacher education programs are tasked with setting a curriculum and building learning experiences that prepares students for the challenges and rigors of professional teaching. One major learning experience is student teaching. This research note details findings from the Benchworks Teacher Education Exit Assessment of over 2,500 students who were either about to or recently had graduated from a teacher education program (hereafter referred to as graduating students) from 21 colleges and universities in the United States. In particular, this research notes explores the student teaching experience, and concepts that relate to quality student teaching experiences.


Key Questions:
1. How satisfied were program graduates with student teaching?
2. What concepts are most closely related to student teaching satisfaction?
3. How does student teaching satisfaction relate to the overall teaching education program experience?


Last week, Skyfactor Benchworks, a Macmillan Learning Company that provides research-based program benchmarking and assessments to help colleges identify areas of improvement, announced the winners of its first, annual Assessment and Impact Awards for Nursing Education. The award was created to highlight schools of nursing that are successfully using data to improve their programs, helping to retain students and developing more practice-ready nursing professionals.


The four institutions selected to be the inaugural Assessment and Impact Award for Nursing were: Bloomfield College, Colorado Technical University, Rowan University and Seton Hall University. The winners were selected using Benchworks multi-step evaluation process that included an analysis of multi-year assessment data that identified programs that either had the best results or best increases in performance in areas like course interactions and quality of instruction, as well as interviews and with nursing program administrators by members of the Benchworks Analytics and Research Team.


Over the past several decades, the topic of campus safety has become increasingly important to discussions around the roles universities play in the lives of their students. For many, their college campus becomes their first home-away-from-home. For many more, it is a crucial new community, as full of opportunities as it is peers. When it comes to holistic student success in higher education, feelings of belonging to and active participation in their student community are influential factors—neither of which are possible without first establishing a sense of safety.

(Campus) Climate Control

A campus climate study is both difficult and important. In many ways, it’s exactly the type of challenge we should spend additional time thinking through. High-profile incidents, political conversations, and research have all raised serious questions about what can be done to improve the overall safety and climate on college campuses. Of course, understanding what you are required (or recommended) to do is often different from understanding why—and taking accurate, routine measurements of your campus climate is necessary to developing initiatives that most effectively address the unique concerns your student body.

Demystifying the Process

If your campus is new to assessing campus climate, the scope and importance of the work can be more than a little daunting. There are many reasons to conduct a climate study, but no universal “right” way to conduct one. That being said, over 20+ years of research on the subject has shown there are three main challenges to most climate studies: definitions, sensitivity, and context. By investigating these challenges, campuses can be better prepared to craft a climate study that will provide accurate, actionable information to support their particular needs.

Challenge 1: Definitions

The term “campus climate” does not have a universal definition or use, so it is important to establish how climate will be defined on your campus and make that definition widely known.

Climate can be defined around populations and domains

For instance, much of higher education climate research focuses on racial climate. However, it could also focus on populations defined by gender identity, sexual orientation, disabilities, socio-economic status, religion, or ageand the list goes on. And your climate studies aren’t limited to the study body; they can also assess issues faced by faculty or staff, including those within the faculty community (for instance, tenure versus tenure-track versus non-tenure).

Even with a specific group, climate studies can include various domains

They can focus on knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, or environments. If a campus is assessing climate related to race/ethnicity, their study could ask about students’ knowledge of or attitudes towards other groups, specific behaviors, interactions, incidents, or experiences. The study could also focus on classroom environments, curriculum, policies related to incidents, or diversity training. It could center on campus perceptions, senior officials, representation, policies, or needed improvements. Climate studies can even focus narrowly on specific issues. For instance, while a White House task force has focused on sexual violence, ADA requirements focus on accessibility. The range of domains for climate studies is large.

Wow, that’s a lot

You’re right! It is. Clearly, a single climate survey can’t address every issue--and we shouldn’t expect it to. Issues will change over time. For this reason, it is important to define, focus, and broadly communicate what “campus climate” means to your university, while being open to broadening or shifting that definition as needs arise.

Challenge 2: Sensitivity

Campus climate is a sensitive topic that can provoke powerful responses. Climate focuses on issues related to our identity, experiences, and values. Thus, it can prompt a wide range of emotions, from passion and excitement to heated discussion and anger. Climate studies have the potential to rouse similar responses.


Concerns can erupt around any aspect of a climate study. Who is involved in the planning may come under scrutiny. Assessment methods, in particular the wording of questions, can become points of contention. Study results will likely prompt strong reactions. Recommendations are meant to provoke discussion.


Those who plan climate studies need to expect these strong reactions. However, the added attention can be both distracting and frustrating because it has the potential to slow down or even stall a study. But, consider this: how often does an assessment project lead to this level of engagement, or even passion? Embrace the sensitivity of a climate study as an opportunity to promote the quality of the work, and broaden the impact of the assessment. In this situation, sensitivity is an indicator of how critical it is the work be done, and done well.

Challenge 3: Context

Climate studies are inextricably grounded in the broader context of a specific campus. Political dynamics—both internal and external—may influence the who, what, and how of a study. Legal concerns, such as open records laws and mandated reporting, may affect what data is collected and from whom. Research policies and ethics affect the questions that are asked (do no harm!), and even perceptions of the media may have an affect on how results are shared or which initiatives are prioritized.


A climate study has to be planned with this wide range of factors in mind. While there may be less effective methods, there is no universal “right” way to conduct a climate survey because context always matters. Many people have insights about important issues. Research boards, legal and media representatives, diversity groups, sexual assault response teams, and others all play a role in the process. Planning and conversation are two powerful tools for assessing and addressing context.

Bridging the Gap

We’ve said it once before: climate studies are both difficult and important. The data they provide set the tone and direction for your greater campus safety prevention, information, and procedure initiatives. Still not sure where to start? Benchworks Campus Climate Assessments are backed by over 25 years of experience, research, and higher education data, and customizable to your campus concerns. Request a demo and we’ll walk you through the process (we’re nice, we promise).


To bridge the gap between theory—or requirements—and practice, the Clery Center provides relevant resources and strategies in conjunction with National Campus Safety Awareness Month to enhance your own understanding of current campus safety best practices and to improve your own prevention and response procedures. Learn more here.

How College Unions Foster a Sense of Belonging among Students

College unions and student centers play a vital role on campus as a central hub for programs, services, and student life in general. College unions aim to not only provide critical services but also to supplement the classroom experience by allowing students to grow and learn as part of their broader college experience. A major component of these efforts is to help students achieve a sense of belonging in both the student union and at the institution more broadly.


This research note explores the concept of sense of belonging in relation to the college union. The findings are drawn from a national dataset constructed from the responses of over 14,000 college students to the ACUI/Benchworks College Union/Student Center Assessment during the 2018-2019 academic year.


Key Questions:


1. To what degree did college unions contribute to student sense of belonging?
2. How did the degree to which college unions contribute to sense of belonging differ across populations?
3. How did the degree to which college unions contribute to sense of belonging differ based on union engagement?
4. How did the degree to which college unions contribute to sense of belonging relate to the overall college union experience?