Electronic voting systems in undergraduate teaching
Page, E. M. and Read, D. (2010) Electronic voting systems in undergraduate teaching. Education in Chemistry, 47 (6). pp. 183-187. ISSN 0013-1350
Official URL: http://www.rsc.org/Education/EiC/issues/2010Novemb...
One of the major differences undergraduates experience during the transition to university is the style of teaching. In schools and colleges most students study key stage 5 subjects in relatively small informal groups where teacher–pupil interaction is encouraged and two-way feedback occurs through question and answer type delivery. On starting in HE students are amazed by the sizes of the classes. For even a relatively small chemistry department with an intake of 60-70 students, biologists, pharmacists, and other first year undergraduates requiring chemistry can boost numbers in the lecture hall to around 200 or higher. In many universities class sizes of 400 are not unusual for first year groups where efficiency is crucial. Clearly the personalised classroom-style delivery is not practical and it is a brave student who shows his ignorance by venturing to ask a question in front of such an audience. In these environments learning can be a very passive process, the lecture acts as a vehicle for the conveyance of information and our students are expected to reinforce their understanding by ‘self-study’, a term, the meaning of which, many struggle to understand. The use of electronic voting systems (EVS) in such situations can vastly change the students’ learning experience from a passive to a highly interactive process. This principle has already been demonstrated in Physics, most notably in the work of Bates and colleagues at Edinburgh.1 These small hand-held devices, similar to those which have become familiar through programmes such as ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ can be used to provide instant feedback to students and teachers alike. Advances in technology now allow them to be used in a range of more sophisticated settings and comprehensive guides on use have been developed for even the most techno-phobic staff.