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Ask the audience - influencing student behaviour

CETL-MSOR Conference 2010, University of Birmingham (06/09/10).

With Sally Barton. Abstract:

Over the next ten years we expect opportunities for eliciting audience response via electronic systems to increase. This gives new ways for lecturers to shape student thinking during a lecture and to provide assessment feedback to student and lecturer, but what effect might the use of multiple choice questions during lectures have on student learning behaviour between lectures?
The first year cohort of undergraduate mathematics students at Nottingham have experienced a range of assessment types in this academic year. They have been assessed using formative and summative coursework, in class tests and computer-based tests, and for the first time, formative use of audience response systems. Trial use of the audience response system was undertaken following an investigation described in [1]. Assessments are used for a variety of purposes. Any particular form of assessment has strengths and weaknesses and choices need to be made between them. The effectiveness of an assessment method is sometimes judged by whether an effect was observed on the marks obtained but this may only indicate that students have learnt how to do the test. One purpose of any assessment is to judge if learning has taken place, can assessment also be used to promote learning? Assessment might be useful to encourage different sorts of student behaviour; do students read their notes after lectures, keep up-to-date with lecture content or reattempt example questions they did not get correct? The audience response system was new and students were asked to say what was their behaviour during the response system classes and afterwards. Students were asked how they approach answering questions, what they do after answering a question correctly or incorrectly, and how that behaviour changed according to whether or not they had guessed their answer.
To compare this with other assessment methods the students were also asked about the affect of the different forms of assessment they have experienced this year on their learning behaviour. This talk will present the findings from this investigation and draw conclusions about the effect of different assessment methods on student behaviour. This will help lecturers, as they have access to more forms of assessment over the next ten years, to consider how different assessment methods might be used to influence the approach to learning desired of the students.
1. Rowlett, P., 2010. Ask the audience (yes, all of them). MSOR Connections, 10(1), pp. 3-5.