What is stress? Let’s see: How about police or military personnel finding themselves faced with difficult shoot/no-shoot decisions. To be sure, the possibility of getting shot is definitely a cause of stress, and the symptoms of stress in those situations are very clear. Time horizons contract and the immediacy of the situation can overwhelm all else; the fight or flight impulse can take over, sometimes with disastrous effects.
Educational researchers looking at active learning continue to extol its virtues. Active learning – which involves students actively engaging in the classroom and using active listening skills and skills to formulate meaning – has been credited with increasing student retention in both the short and long terms.
The bloggers at Meridia Interactive Solutions have posted several articles about the use of audience response systems (ARS) in school settings – mostly showcasing the value of ARS when it comes to pre-testing students, facilitating student engagement in sensitive conversations, and the like. Those make perfect sense, but the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) showed me a whole new role for ARS in an educational setting: RIT used ARS to help calm the frayed nerves of parents dropping their kids off for freshman orientation.
A recent paper on Audience Response Systems and Missingness Trends in JMIR Formative Research identified an issue that educators need to pay attention to when using ARS to discuss sensitive issues in a school setting. As we’ve noted elsewhere in discussing the value of using ARS to facilitate active student engagement, the anonymity of ARS can help shy students overcome their reticence and diffidence. It can give a voice to students who feel uncomfortable sharing the reality of their experiences.
Interacting with students can be tricky, particularly if you are seeking active engagement on sensitive topics. We’ve already written about how some educators are using audience response systems (ARS) to present interactive classroom programs on sexual health, but topics that are ostensibly far less delicate can also benefit from the use of a classroom response system.