Optimising Personal Audience Response Systems technology to enhance student learning in teacher education lectures
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education
New technologies are integral to the lives of most ‘Generation Y’ students. They tend to be visually-oriented learners, prefer relaxed and socially conducive learning environments, and anticipate engaging, relevant, and authentic learning experiences. Work environments commonly assume prospective employees to be technologically competent. In particular, school teachers are expected to embed new technologies in their teaching. As teacher educators at Edith Cowan University mindful of these imperatives we recently trialled a Personal Audience Response System (PARS) in our education lectures to enhance student engagement and learning. This technology is widely used in higher education in North America and increasingly so in Australian universities. It permits students to give instant individual responses to questions posed. The data are automatically analysed and displayed to the students. Our evaluation of the role of PARS in our lectures indicated compellingly that it enhanced student engagement and learning. We identified four discernable learning processes that the technology appeared to enhance for our students, notably: expediting immediate formative feedback; promoting dialogue; facilitating reflection; and advancing higher order thinking. These findings raised an important question for us: “How best can the role of PARS technology be optimised in enhancing key learning processes for students?” We respond to this question by proposing a set of fundamental, interdependent strategies categorized into three broad areas (preparation; pedagogy; and professional learning) that we believe should be embraced in optimising the role of PARS.