BACKGROUND: There is an increasing trend toward transcending from traditional teaching to student-centered methodologies that actively engage students. We aimed to analyze students' perceptions of effective interactive teaching using PollEverywhere Audience Response System (ARS) as a worthwhile teaching methodology. It can be of great help in maintaining students' attention and in facilitating the lecturer to pick up students' misunderstandings and correct them.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: This system was introduced to the undergraduate dental curriculum to increase student's motivation and attention, giving immediate feedback on student understanding during an anatomy module. Computer science (CS) students who were more familiar with the use of this technology were also involved in the study for comparison and validation of the findings. The lecturer strategically inserted questions using PollEverywhere ARS. Students' perception of the effective interactive teaching using this technology was evaluated statistically using a questionnaire and focus groups.
RESULTS: It promoted interactivity, focused attention, and provided feedback on comprehension. A total of 95% reported that it increased their participation and found that it clarified their thinking and helped to focus on key points. Another 81.7% mentioned that it increased their motivation to learn. Students regarded it as a useful method for giving real-time feedback, which stimulated their performance and participation. Data from CS students echoed the findings from the dental students. Reports from focus groups demonstrated that this strategy was helpful in focusing students' attention and in clarifying information.
DISCUSSION: PollEverywhere encouraged all students to participate during the learning process. This has proven to be an effective tool for improving students' understanding and critical thinking.
CONCLUSION: Students regarded PollEverywhere as an effective teaching innovation that encouraged deeper ongoing retention of information. It was found to be an effective teaching aid in monitoring students' progress and identifying deficiencies. This is of benefit in a module where interactivity is considered important.
Individuals in St George's Hospital Medical School commended my teaching method and mentioned that they then tried this method and experienced themselves the benefits of being taught using mobile ARS and can vouch for its effectiveness. They sent a Letter to the Editor of the Journal of the Advances in Medical Education and Practice on my publication "Students' perceptions on Learning approaches: Traditional versus interactive"mentioning that they agree with the importance of open-ended questions as mentioned in the Abdel Meguid and Collins article. For them, questions requiring critical thinking were much more beneficial than simple recall questions and often sparked productive conversation surrounding the reasoning of responses. In addition, many ARS applications consist of more diverse question types, including the use of images from which students can select a specific region as a response. This would be particularly useful in anatomy, which was one of the modules upon which this study was based.
Furthermore, they said that using ARS to review previous learning concepts was also invaluable and provided immediate feedback on the audience’s understanding – as mentioned in the Abdel Meguid and Collins article. By starting a lecture with a short quiz covering previously taught content, lecturers could assess our level of understanding of a given topic and thus tailor the session to areas that was identified as needing more attention. With applications such as “Mentimeter” offering the ability to directly export feedback to Excel, further analysis of data can be completed retrospectively – possibly allowing institutions a valuable insight, which may influence future teaching. Utilizing such applications may also address the issue of educators not receiving enough regular feedback.