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Electronic voting handsets installed in lecture theatres

18 October 2012

Over the summer ELE installed electronic voting handsets into three lecture theatres: Cruciform LT1, the Christopher Ingold Auditorium and the Harrie Massey Lecture Theatre.

Electronic voting handsets have been installed in UCL's Cruciform Lecture Theatre 1

The voting handsets – one for each seat – are combined with a receiver fitted into the podium and freely downloadable software that integrates with Microsoft PowerPoint.

It’s easy to add in question slides to test knowledge, challenge students with problems or gather opinions. Examples of use include:

  • Testing students’ prior knowledge
  • Developing problem-solving skills
  • Predicting the outcomes of experiments
  • Creating a starting point for a class-wide or peer discussion
  • Gathering views on sensitive or controversial topics

Since the students vote anonymously response rates are often much higher than asking for a show of hands – a 90% response rate is not unusual. The feedback received from the voting results is valuable to the lecturer and also useful for students as they can quickly measure their progress against their peers.

Person voting using electronic voting system (EVS) in UCL Cruciform Lecture Theatre 1

Andrew Fisher, Professor of Physics says: 

“In physics, there are several reasons to use student responses as part of a lecture session. First, I want to encourage students to read ahead to familiarise themselves with the material. I help them to do this by giving a short, unassessed quiz at the start of each lecture on the material that is coming up. Second, I use it as feedback for me in my teaching: it’s fundamental that students are able to solve problems so I use voting to test our students’ abilities to apply the principles we are teaching them. When most of the class get a question right I know we can move on. When most get it wrong I know I need to cover the ground again, or use a different tactic to explain it. And when it’s about half and half I open the question up for discussion and uncover and correct any misconceptions that the students have. I usually use two or three questions per lecture, enough to give me instant feedback about the progress of my diverse first-year cohort. Finally, I use the process of getting the students to answer the questions as a way of encouraging them to discuss the lecture material with one another and reinforcing their understanding of it.”

Electronic voting system (EVS) handset installed in Cruciform Lecture Theatre 1, UCL

Pam Houston, Module Lead for Foundations of Health and Medical Practice says:

“We use electronic voting with our first and second-year students in two main ways. Our course covers many sensitive issues around professional practice and what it means to be a doctor, so we use voting to encourage student participation and raise the issues that they are sure to encounter later in their careers. Being a doctor also involves making decisions – no one would want to see a doctor who could not decide what to do about their complaint. We ask voting questions about patient situations to develop decision-making skills at an early stage as well as testing scientific knowledge. Lectures with 350 students can be very impersonal experiences and there is a lot of peer pressure which dissuades students from putting up their hands and asking or answering questions. The ease and anonymity of voting is engaging for both staff and students and improves our interaction with a large class.”

As well as the lecture theatre installations, 450 handsets are available for short-term loan from the AV Centre, and in some cases individual departments can be issued with handset kits for their own students.

  • For more information on using voting in your teaching contact E-Learning Environments by emailing or calling 020 7679 0820 (internal extension 40820)

Page last modified on 18 oct 12 15:55

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