J.A. Carroll, J. Rodgers, M. Sankupellay, M. Newcomb, R. Cook

Queensland University of Technology (AUSTRALIA)
There is currently a wide range of research into the recent introduction of audience response technologies in higher education and tertiary settings (Banks, 2006; Kay and Le Sange, 2009; Beatty and Gerace, 2009; Lantz 2010; Sprague and Dahl 2009). However, most of this pedagogical literature has generated ‘how to’ approaches regarding the use of ‘clickers’, keypads, and similar response technologies. There are currently no systematic reviews on the effectiveness of ‘GoSoapBox’ – a more recent, and increasingly popular audio-response technology – for its capacity to enhance critical thinking, and achieve sustained learning outcomes. With rapid developments in teaching and learning technologies across all undergraduate disciplines, there is a need to obtain comprehensive, evidence-based advice on these types of technologies, their uses, and overall efficacy. This paper addresses this current gap in knowledge. Our teaching team in an undergraduate Sociology and Public Health unit at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) introduced GoSoapBox as a mechanism for discussing controversial topics such as sexuality, gender, economics, religion, and politics during lectures, and to take opinion polls on social and cultural issues affecting human health. We also used this new teaching technology to allow students to interact with each other during class – both on both social and academic topics – and to generate discussions and debates during lectures. The paper reports on a data-driven study into how this interactive online tool worked to improve engagement and the quality of academic work produced by students.

This paper will firstly, cover the recent literature reviewing audience response tools in tertiary settings. Secondly, it will outline the theoretical framework used to generate this pedagogical research. In keeping with the social and collaborative features of Web 2.0 technologies, Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (SLT) will be applied here to investigate the effectiveness of GoSoapBox as an online tool for improving learning experiences and the quality of academic output by students. Bandura has emphasised the Internet as a tool for ‘self-controlled learning’ (Bandura, 2001), as it provides the education sector with an opportunity to reconceptualise the relationship between learning and thinking (Glassman & Kang, 2011). Thirdly, we describe the methods used to implement the use of GoSoapBox in our lectures and tutorials, and which aspects of the technology we drew on for learning purposes, as well as the methods for obtaining feedback from the students about the effectiveness or otherwise of this tool. Fourthly, we report on our findings that are produced as a result of an analysis of all student/staff activity on GoSoapBox as well as reports from students about the benefits and limitations of it as a learning aid. Finally, we display a theoretical model that is produced via an iterative analytical process between SLT and our data analysis for use by academics and teachers across the undergraduate curriculum. The model has implications for all teachers considering the use of audience-response technologies to improve the learning experiences of their students.