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Response Card

By JoyLynn Whitfield

Edited by Claire Murphy, 9/2022

What are Response Cards?                                                                                     

Response Cards are a school-based, Tier 2, class-wide behavioral intervention that can be implemented with students from kindergarten to 12th grade. This intervention targets students who are struggling to engage appropriately in classroom instruction. This could mean that the student is not engaging enough, or conversely, has difficulty waiting to be called on by the teacher to ask a question or respond to prompts. The intervention includes providing all students with cards to respond to prompts given by the teacher. Students then write down their responses and display them, and are given positive praise or corrective feedback based on their response. 

Components of Response Cards

  • Students must be trained on the appropriate use of the response cards. Give direct instruction on when, where, and how they will be used and the correct behaviors expected following teacher prompts. 

  • Response cards should be big enough for teachers to be able to view the responses from their position in the classroom. These could take the form of large index cards, dry erase boards, or laminated folder halves. Note that if you wish to save the responses for data collection, the use of dry erase boards must be accompanied by a written record by the students or teacher.

  • Students must be capable of writing out their responses. If the student is unable to do this, alternative methods of response must be provided, such as typing responses on an electronic device, or pointing to the correct response from a set of options. 

  • Immediate feedback needs to be provided to students following the response. This can come in the form of verbal praise for correct responses or corrective feedback to those with incorrect responses. 

  • Cards need to be displayed facing the teacher only and not the entire class.

  • Cost: The implementation of Response Cards can vary in cost. If you choose to use a class-set of dry erase boards and markers, this could cost up to $50. However, if you get creative and use laminated folder halves, this could cut the cost down substantially. Electronic forms of Response Cards can also be utilized for little to no cost to you if the students have access to supporting electronic devices in your school.

Evidence of Response Cards' Effectiveness

According to a study done by Lambert et al. (2006), the average amount of disruptive behaviors exhibited in the classroom was significantly reduced when compared to hand-raising alone. In an additional study done by Covanaugh et al. 1996 exploring the effect of response cards in a high school science classroom on test accuracy rates, 21 out of 23 students achieved higher test scores on items that were reviewed with response cards. Additionally, all 8 students identified with disabilities in the class achieved higher scores on items reviewed with response cards. Additionally, in a literature review conducted by Horn et al. (2010) investigating response card effectiveness for students with disabilities, response cards were shown to be effective in increasing the number of opportunities for students to respond, increasing the number of accurate responses, increasing on-task behavior, and decreasing inappropriate behavior in the majority of studies reviewed.


Cavanaugh, R. A., Heward, W. L., & Donelson, F. (1996). Effects of response cards during lesson closure on the academic performance of secondary students in an earth science course. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 29(3), 403-406.


Christle, C. A., & Schuster, J. W. (2003). The effects of using response cards on student participation, academic achievement, and on-task behavior during whole-class, math instruction. Journal of Behavioral Education, 12(3), 147-165.


Lambert, M. C., Cartledge, G., Heward, W. L., & Lo, Y. Y. (2006). Effects of response cards on disruptive behavior and academic responding during math lessons by fourth-grade urban students. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 8(2), 88-99.


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

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