The quality of teaching and thus evaluation of lectures and lecturers have increasingly drawn public’s attention. Due to financial influences in education and various ranking lists of universities, quality of teaching is constantly observed in order to assess possible deficiencies.
Students’ evaluation of lectures and the lecturer is used as a tool to observe teaching quality continuously with adequate effort. Based on evaluation results, salaries and financial subsidies for educational purposes are distributed . Therefore, a modern challenge of medical education is to create innovative concepts to improve interaction in lectures and to represent a contemporary way of teaching.
Audience Response Systems (ARS) are resources to individually and simultaneously involve the audience in lectures. ARS allows the lecturer to interact with the audience as part of the lecture and to directly receive feedback. One of the main goals of ARS is to increase and improve interaction between the lecturer and the audience .
Due to the fact that most students own a smartphone (95% in the age group of 14–29 years) nowadays , the incorporation in lectures using browser-based ARS is easier and does not require additional devices. There are several open-source applications that can be used for academic teaching .
In previous investigations the use of ARS is highly valued among students, providing a better environment for asking questions and receiving answers. It helps students to actively participate in the teaching process due to a low inhibition threshold [4–7]. The anonymity of most ARS is granted by a web-based open platform, suggesting security. As a result, ARS especially improves activation and enhances learning in students who feel uncomfortable answering questions in front of others or might rate their questions as inappropriate.
An effect of ARS use in lectures is the increase of student motivation and the generation of a learning friendly environment . The improvement of assessment grades remains contradictory [4, 6, 9]. Either way students claim that using ARS enhances their understanding of the lecture. They conclude that ARS can be used as an efficient feedback tool. Lecturers can alter their teaching methods depending on direct feedback provided by the use of ARS. They receive a direct measure of their intelligibility. This makes ARS a valuable instrument of quality measurement in academic teaching .
Audience response technology is well perceived by students and more lecturers start to rely on new and smart ways to receive evaluations for their lectures [4–8]. Students’ evaluation is established at medical schools, traditionally using a questionnaire on a handout directly after lecture. It seems to be a reliable measure when it is focused on individual courses. Furthermore, the lecturer receives a direct feedback [11, 12]. Results show that global ratings of teachers are mainly based on teaching behavior and teachers’ knowledge, but there are additional effects that influence students’ evaluation . Expected grade, actual grade, course level, class size, course timing, student gender and course subject significantly affect student evaluation of teaching as biasing variables . Investigations if ARS use has an influence on results of evaluation has shown the impact has been favorable for speakers and evaluation of lectures . A main difficulty of evaluation in general is participation and the response rate. In voluntary lectures, many students leave the plenum directly after the end of the given presentation without evaluating or giving a feedback. ARS might be an interactive way to improve student’s response rates .
While the existing literature suggests a positive perception of this relatively new technology few direct comparisons of traditional paper-pencil questionnaires and ARS have been published to our knowledge.
Our controlled study investigated whether ARS in evaluation of medical lectures has an impact on evaluation results. In addition, we investigated if ARS use in medical lectures can enhance student learning and motivation.