Enhancing student engagement using a classroom response system (CRS) (2014)

Jeff Waldock, Hannah Bartholomew, Xinjun Cui, Sue Forder, David Greenfield, Wodu Majin, John Metcalfe and Mike Robinson

Student engagement with course material can be variable. Lectures are often didactic, information being transmitted by the lecturer with student interaction  occurring rarely if at all. Such lectures do not normally require students to actively engage with the taught material, concentrating rather on copying down what is said and not thinking about it for themselves.  A different problem occurs in group tutorials where it is often difficult to get everyone to make productive use of the time.

In-class response systems can provide a solution, promoting cooperative learning with “students becoming active participants in their learning” (Beatty, 2006). The purpose of including these systems in the classroom has multiple benefits – principally to introduce an element of dialogue and team working into the session, but also to maintain engagement and stimulate interest.  Beatty explains the process as involving six stages:

  1. Provision of a question for discussion
  2. Small peer group discussion – probably just for a minute or two
  3. Provision of a peer group response
  4. Class discussion
  5. General tutor observations, possibly presented as a micro-lecture
  6. Closure – summarising the topic, then moving on.

An example of a suitable tool of this kind is ‘Socrative‘, which allows a lecturer to present ad-hoc or prepared quizzes (multiple choice or short-answer) to students in class.  We have used Socrative in many ways within ACES during the last year, and will share our experiences and student feedback, discussing with participants how this approach could be of benefit to them.  Participants will also be invited to join a Socrative Special Interest Group.

If you plan to attend, and own a smartphone or tablet device, please download and install the free ‘Socrative Student’ and ‘Socrative Teacher’ apps first.  If you don’t have a device you will be able to pair up with another participant.

Beatty, I.D et. al., “Designing Effective Questions for Classroom Response System Teaching”, Am. J Phys., 74, pp31-39, 2006.