Engaging students and changing pedagogy: using learner response systems in university courses

Year: 2012

Author: Monk, Sue, Smala, Simone, Campbell, Chris

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


There are many ways to engage students while they study at university. This study used a learner response system in an attempt to improve student participation in lectures. After an initial trial using 'clickers' (learner response system) with a small cohort of students in a first year education subject, results demonstrated possibilities for increased engagement with course content, improved interaction between students and lecturer/tutor, enhanced student feedback and contribution to resources for students to access outside of tutorial classes in preparation for assignments (Campbell and Monk, 2012). During that trial phase it was noted that the lecturer and tutor also began to develop their questions while keeping in mind the types of responses that could be elicited from students via the clickers. Following this it was decided to expand the trial to incorporate a larger number of students and lecturers to investigate if, and how, lecturers changed their approach to eliciting student responses and engagement during lectures. The cohort was from a large first year undergraduate education course that focused predominately on the sociology of education. The lecturer was particularly interested in decisions around types of questions and types of student responses (e.g. voting, multiple-choice, open-ended questions). Previously, learner response systems, such as clickers, have been used predominantly with mathematics and science classes. The paper concludes that new technologies, such as student response systems, are not just a tool for student engagement, but also provide opportunities for intellectual stimulation and scaffolding of conceptual knowledge, broadening their application for use in the Social Sciences.