Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Concurrent Use of an Audience Response System at a Multi-Campus College of Pharmacy

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Concurrent Use of an Audience Response System at a Multi-Campus College of Pharmacy

Article excerpt


Long, rambling lectures plague the modern classroom, leading Maclaughlin and Mandin to popularize the tongue-in-cheek term "lecturalgia" (painful lecture) to describe the resulting ailment suffered by students. (1) Methods and tools to reduce lecturalgia, promote active learning, and improve student engagement increasingly are sought as education of healthcare professionals evolves from the predominant curriculum delivery mode of lecturing. Student engagement has been transformed from a buzzword into a movement, buoyed by initiatives like the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and co-opted by institutions looking to satisfy Quality Enhancement Plan requirements. (2,3) One method suggested to elevate student engagement is the use of audience response systems (ARSs). (1,4,5)

ARSs have been used in medical education since the 1970s, but have become more popular in the last 5 to 10 years. (6,7) Since their inception, ARSs have been adopted as an interactive tool in a variety of health professions courses and disciplines including pharmacy, medicine, dentistry, and nursing. (4,8-15) An ARS allows a professor to pose a question to the class, typically in the multiple-choice format seen on many board examinations, and then the students respond by pressing the button on their response cards or "clickers" that corresponds to what they believe is the correct answer. At the end of a specified amount of time or at the instructor's discretion, the professor uses ARS software to display the frequency of responses for the class' aggregated answers to a given question. The correct answer then can be displayed onscreen or the professor can lead a discussion on why each of the incorrect answers is unsuitable and then reveal the correct answer. There are many variations of this process, such as asking ARS questions intended to stimulate dialogue rather than simple assessment of a factual item (16-18) and using techniques such as think-pair-share. (19) Until recently, ARSs suffered from a technological limitation that precluded clickers from being used concurrently at universities with multiple geographically distinct sites while still allowing for real-time data aggregation. Other models for the use of ARS at more than one site were available, such as integrating smartphones and computers, but suffered from the same problems as any system when additional variables are beta tested. Previously, this limitation prevented the adoption of an ARS at Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy.

The anonymity that an ARS confers may be of particular relevance in pharmacy education as testing a sample of over 10,000 pharmacy students revealed that at least 1 in 5 scored high for communication apprehension? (20) Communication apprehension is defined as "an anxiety syndrome associated with either real or anticipated communication with another person or persons." (21) Communication apprehension can be exacerbated in active-learning situations when a student is asked or expected to participate. (22) Cognitive intercession strategies such as systematic desensitization techniques may reduce communication apprehension. (22-24) The use of ARSs may be a way of implementing interactive learning strategies in the classroom while minimizing communication apprehension.

This study assessed the effect of concurrent implementation of ARS at 3 campuses on student perceptions of engagement. For the purposes of this article, the term engagement refers to the cognitive and behavior aspects of the word including student participation, connection, interaction, and focus in the classroom. This definition is more in line with the cognitive and behavioral aspects of engagement, rather than as a checklist item or simple metric.


Selection and Use of an Audience Response System

Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy has campuses at Fort Lauderdale, FL, West Palm Beach, FL, and Ponce, Puerto Rico. …

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