About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 1759-1766
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain


J. Murray, P. Anderson, B. Yehezkel

University of Lincoln (UNITED KINGDOM)
As is common amongst educational institutions, lectures are usually scheduled for 50 minute sessions. In this time, module content has to be transferred in such a way that the lecturer is confident the student has understood. Atherton (2001) states that "a lecture is the process by which the notes of the lecturer become the notes of the student without passing through the mind of either". This is reinforced by Bligh (1998) who postulates 'student attention rapidly decreases over time'. This is something every lecturer can relate to and leads to the question: 'How can we assess the minds of the students [to ensure understanding]?'.

One of the most instant methods to check understanding is to ask the students if they have any questions regarding the material. Unfortunately, this simple task is fraught with problems, as any lecturer will know, students are renowned for not asking questions or showing [to their peers] a lack of understanding however misplaced this may be. When one asks ‘does everyone understand?’, this question is usually greeted with a few nodding heads or muttering.

Internet forums such as CollegeNET.com contain hundreds of comments from students and lecturers on why they feel students don’t ask questions in lectures. Looking at these it would seem the overriding reason for this is fear. Students feel their questions may be trivial, or indeed they are the only ones not understanding and therefore don’t wish to appear "stupid" to their peers. However, what doesn’t seem apparent to students in this situation is maybe the subject material hasn’t been explained enough or in fact the majority of the class also don't understand. It is important for student understanding that material is pitched at the correctly level, understood and student are encouraged to ask as many questions as possible.

This paper presents a tool designed to help students ask questions in lectures, the result of which is FAST.Q (Feedback and Answer System Technology for Questions). The goal of FAST.Q is to provide a platform by which students can ask their questions. Using devices such as smart phones, laptops, tablets, etc, students can access the FAST.Q system. Once here, they are provided with two options: 1) ask a Question, or 2) provide feedback.

Option 1 allows the student to ask: "I don't understand the Equivalence Partitioning Algorithm". Using a lexical analysis system, on the lecturers display they would see 'Explain Equivalence Partitioning' and would therefore be able to re-iterate over this topic without making anyone aware that it was even requested, or who requested it.

If a student selects option 2, then they are able to comment on elements of the lecture such as content, delivery, materials, communication etc. The advantage of this approach as opposed to ‘end of term’ surveys is feedback is given at a time when it is fresh in the student’s mind; it also allows the lecturer to immediately react to this feedback in the current or next lecture, allowing the student to gain instant benefit.

Students who are confident enough to ask questions aloud still have this ability, however, FAST.Q also allows other students to be heard and engage.

Atherton J S (2011) Teaching and Learning; Lectures [On-line: UK] retrieved 4 September 2011 from http://www.learningandteaching.info/teaching/lecture.htm

Bligh D (1998) What’s the use of Lectures? 5th Edition, ISBN:-13: 978-1871516791, Publisher: Intellect Books. Page: 56, Fig. 5.4.
author = {Murray, J. and Anderson, P. and Yehezkel, B.},
series = {4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN12 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-695-3491-5},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {2-4 July, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {1759-1766}}
AU - J. Murray AU - P. Anderson AU - B. Yehezkel
SN - 978-84-695-3491-5/2340-1117
PY - 2012
Y1 - 2-4 July, 2012
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN12 Proceedings
SP - 1759
EP - 1766
ER -
J. Murray, P. Anderson, B. Yehezkel (2012) FAST.Q - FEEDBACK AND ANSWER SYSTEM TECHNOLOGY FOR QUESTIONS, EDULEARN12 Proceedings, pp. 1759-1766.