O. Gröblinger1, M. Kopp2, B. Hoffmann1

1University of Innsbruck (AUSTRIA)
2University of Graz (AUSTRIA)
As Kay & Lesage (2009) explain, audience response systems (ARSs) permit students to answer electronically displayed multiple choice questions using a remote control device. In higher education, more and more lecturers use ARSs to engage their students more intensively, especially when it comes to mass lectures. This contribution will deal with advantages and challenges of using ARSs in lectures with more than 200 students. Using the ARS “Arsnova” the technical and didactical potentials of ARSs will be discussed and it will be shown how these systems can be used as an instrument of quality assurance in academic teaching. The research will be based on the lecture "Grundlagen der Betriebswirtschaft" held in winter term 2015.

ARSs are in the focus of research since the 1960ies. Since then technology has evolved radically. Nowadays not only an adequate internet connection (WiFi) is available in most lecture halls but also students bring their own smart phones and tablets to their lectures. Considering this “bring your own device” approach the use of special (and expensive) devices is not necessary anymore. Simultaneously, ARSs have developed very rapidly and offers a wide range of different questions types and additional feedback functions.

For lecturers using a state of the art ARS means that they can prepare a series of questions which may be distributed to the students at any time during their lecture. Students use their own devices to answer those questions. Hence, lectures get a direct feedback about the students´ understanding of the content. Moreover, students have the chance to ask questions themselves which are collected by the system automatically and can be answered by the lecturer. This means that ARS provide lecturers as well as students a new and effective way of interaction, especially in massive courses (Haintz et al, 2014).

Undoubtedly, a lot of benefits come along with the use of ARSs. Lecturers can attract the attention of their students, who are able to participate actively and to give feedback anonymously. ARSs increase the quality and quantity of class discussion and therefore the learning performance. But there are also some challenges: First of all, the used technology has to work properly. In didactic terms lecturers not only have to prepare adequate questions, but also the right amount of question per lecture. Furthermore they need to have a good sense when to provide those questions to the students, to ensure that the overall concept of the lecture is not compromised by the usage of ARSs. All of this can be very stressful. Concerning students, using an ARS requires more cognitive energy and cooperation so that students may refuse to take part in ARS-votings. Not all discussions initiated by an ARS run smoothly which may lead to confusion. And students may be concerned that their responses are being monitored and saved by the system.

So, pondering the pros and cons of ARSs, the core question remains if ARSs enhance the quality assurance of academic teaching. Answering this question will be the focal point of this contribution.

[1] Haintz, C.; Pichler, K.; Ebner, M. (2014): Developing a Web-Based Question-Driven Audience Response System Supporting BYOD. In: Journal of Universal Computer Science, Vol. 20, No. 1, P. 39-56.
[2] Kay, H. R. & Lesage, A. (2009): Examining the benefits and Challenges of using audience response systems: A review of the literature. In: Computers & Education, Vol. 53, P. 819-827.