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Observations On Benefits/Limitations Of An Audience Response System

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Technology, Communications & Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.954.1 - 9.954.16



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Paper Authors

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Stephen Silliman

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Leo Hubbard McWilliams

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session Number: 2531

Observations on Benefits/Limitations of an Audience Response System Stephen E. Silliman and Leo McWilliams 257 Fitzpatrick Hall College of Engineering University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN 46556


The audience response system (ARS) used in this study integrates fully into existing presentation software and has been applied in a range of settings from high-school presentations, to interrogation of a large freshman engineering class, to guided equation development and case studies in a senior class in groundwater, to assessment of learning objectives and outcomes. The ARS allows real-time feedback to the students, as well as detailed demographic and student- specific response summaries. Through application in these settings, a number of strengths and weaknesses of the ARS have been identified for use in engineering curricula: -1- Students report that derivations and long lectures are more interesting, -2- Student retention was improved in a freshman engineering course, in part due to feedback provided the student via the ARS, -3- The faculty member is provided with immediate feedback to guide lectures, -4- Responses allow monitoring of individual students, -5- Demographic comparisons and assessment of outcomes are routinely available for analysis, and -6- High-school students were impressed with the technological sophistication of the system. Among the weaknesses of the ARS are: -1- Some students have commented that the ARS unnecessarily slows lectures, -2- Some students have indicated a level of intimidation via the immediate response required with the ARS, -3- In one class, weak students were inadvertently “left behind” due to the more advanced lectures, -4- There is an increased potential for technology glitches, and -5- Distribution and collection of the hand-held units must be managed to minimize the impact on class time.

While care must be taken to avoid over dependence and overuse of an ARS, it is observed that an ARS can significantly improve the learning environment and ability to assess student learning. The ARS is also a valuable tool for assessment of course and curriculum outcomes, with potential for rapid delineation of outcomes by demographic groups.

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright @ 2004, American Society for Engineering Education”

Silliman, S., & McWilliams, L. H. (2004, June), Observations On Benefits/Limitations Of An Audience Response System Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13044

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