Inclusive teaching video: Involving students in large groups: ideas for using interactive handsets (2 minutes : 41 seconds)

Richard Field (School of Geography), Andrew Fisher (School of Humanities).

Richard Field, Geography:
With second year students there's an element of confidence as well about whether they feel very happy discussing research front articles in front of a group and kind of criticising. And there was a lot of listening - not so much talking - done by the students.

So another thing I want to introduce this year is actually using audience response systems, where we can ask questions about the article just ad hoc. Things like "Who thought the analysis was flawed?".

And if I ask that to a large group the students will tend to just shut up and not say anything and not put their hands up. But if they can press a button and say yes or no, and then it comes up on the screen a bit like Who Wants to be a Millionaire: "75% thought the analyses were good" or whatever, I think that will work much better. So I'm bringing that in in the next year.

How big are your groups?

It's about 80, typically, each year that do this, so it's quite a big group size. You can break them up into smaller groups for discussing things briefly, but I think the discussions of articles tend to be … you kind of have to keep it reasonably directed from the front.

Andrew Fisher, Philosophy:
Another thing also, and I don't know if this fits the e-learning thing, is use of integrative responses in lectures. So I know that now is available through arts and humanities there's a lot of these kits, so you can actually borrow a kit which gives you an A, B, C and D that you build into your PowerPoint questions, and the students can then press A, B or C and it automatically feeds back so that the students can therefore be part of the lecture. So I think that's really exciting as well.

I think it can be overused, it's a bit gimmicky and, yes, it's a bit like "Phone a Friend" from Millionaire, but for example in my Applied Ethics course I always started by giving them some case studies - "So what do people think, what's your view on fox hunting?" - and you get a few putting hands up and it's quite hard to gauge.

But if you've got a PowerPoint with that question on, and people (anonymously, this is going to be) press A, B, "I agree", "I disagree", whatever, then it immediately comes up, and they own it in some sense. They've already thought about it, they've put themselves on the graph and said "Right, you're going to address that", and they're all engaged immediately.

And so those are the sort of things I'm going to be moving into.

Produced: June 2007, in collaboration with the University's Promoting Enhanced Student Learning (PESL) initiative.

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