Click happy?: an analysis of the use of an Electronic Voting System (EVS) in large group lectures to improve interaction and engagement

Karen Mc Cullagh

Abstract


This paper outlines the findings from an action research study conducted at Salford Law School; reporting the responses of students to the inclusion of an electronic voting system (hereafter referred to as ‘clickers’) in large group Undergraduate Public Law lectures. The paper begins reflecting upon my current lecture practice in the context of existing literature and by reviewing feedback from previous cohorts of students. This reveals that the traditional, didactic lecture style, commonly employed by law lecturers in the UK has been criticized for fostering student passivity and resulting in surface learning (Ramsden, 1992). In contrast, studies carried out in pure science disciplines; medicine, engineering and mathematics (Hake, 1998; Crouch & Mazur, 2001) indicate positive results from use of clicker quizzes, in terms of increasing student interaction and engagement. Accordingly, I decided to incorporate clicker quizzes into lectures, and measure student responses to this change in teaching practice. The findings indicate that clicker usage increased student interaction and engagement. This study concludes that clickers should be used on an ongoing basis in Public law lectures, and also indicates positive support from students regarding the use clickers in other undergraduate law subjects. Furthermore, although the findings from this action research study are not generalisable, the responses suggest that clickers could be an effective teaching tool in large group sessions in other disciplines, since they replicate findings from previous studies in other disciplines.

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