This study presents the investigation of a web-based audience response system, Monash eLearning Tools System (MeLTS), in a first year engineering unit. The system was designed and built by two engineering students and trailed by approximately 230 students over the course of a semester. Given the increasing size of higher education classes, non-traditional methods are needed in order to engage students and provide an active learning environment. Current research has shown that, while there are some minor challenges to employing audience response systems, when used correctly, they have been effective at improving students’ learning and their instructors’ assessments in addition to the learning environment itself.
The purpose of this research was to monitor how first year engineering students respond to, use and benefit from the MeLTS web-based audience response system and compare these findings to other methods of engagement.
In order to explore these questions, an online audience response system was developed as a web-app by two fourth year engineering students. This system was used over the course of a first year engineering unit to test students’ understanding of lecture content with student answers being recorded over the duration of the semester. This data was analysed in conjunction with tutorial attendance, final unit scores and a student survey amongst other data.
There was a positive correlation between the MeLTS audience response system questions attempted and students’ final scores for the unit. Survey responses suggested that the audience response system was well received by the students. It was found that smartphones were by far the most popular device students used to access the system, followed by tablets and then laptops.
Students tended to use smartphones to access the web-app, they predominantly enjoy using audience response technology such as MeLTS and, given the correlation between audience response system question attempts and final unit scores, it appears that using audience response systems has a positive effect on student learning and increased student engagement. This agrees with current literature on the subject which states that, when used correctly, audience response systems are effective at increasing learning performance and are largely well received by students.
Audience Response System; Student Engagement; Peer instruction