Thursday, September 25, 2014

Engaging Audience During Lecture

Introduction: Having sat through thousands of hours of lectures over the last 2-3 decades of my schooling, there have been instructors who manged to engage me and many more who did not. Now, I have the privilege to be on the other side of the podium as an instructor for the Men's Health series course for medical students at University of California, Riverside School of Medicine, and the dots started to connect for me. Some instructors have a natural stage presence, but if you're just beginning, here is my suggestion.
  • Audience Response System (ARS) (1,2) 
    • How this works: lecturer asks multiple choice questions and the audience can respond either with clickers (software: Turning Point) or their phones / devices (free software available on Poll Everywhere)
    • What the audience says:  I polled my residency program about their experiences and here are the results:
      • everyone has access to Wifi capable devices
      • 72% have moderate/high experience with ARS
      • In those who have used ARS:
      •  88% felt it was more interactive
      •  60% felt it improved their knowledge
      •  56% felt it increased retention of material
      • 50% would rate the lecturer more favorably if ARS incorporated into lectures
    • Example: Here is one of my lecture and how I frame the ARS questions.
    • Challenges
      • I find that lecturers care about the topic they're teaching but often, I experience resistance. Quite honestly, I don't know why and this resistance is very hard to overcome.
      • I imagine it's likely because it takes time to learn how to use ARS, and even more time to incorporate ARS questions into the lectures. 
      • But, lecturers should know that ARS can improve their evaluation so this might be an incentive for more lecturers to incorporate ARS questions.

Free Audience Response Software: Poll Everywhere

I  spoke to someone who arranges conferences for 200-300 people at at time and she told me about Poll Everywhere. I searched online and learned about it. I tried it out during a case conference and it was great!  First of all, please note that I have no financial interest in this company. 

My experience with Poll Everywhere was super positive. I got the free version (which allow up to 40 responses). Benefits:
  1. What I really love was that you can adjust the size of the pole and adjust to your slide. The poll doesn't have to take up your entire slide.
  2. You can choose your link which is really nice. My link for example is

  1. Remove the timer. I actually find this more intrusive than beneficial because if your audience needs more time, you have to reset it. 
  2. Use only online link function. You can allow text response but this takes up so much space on the slide and it's not convenient at all, because you have to type in 5 numbers on your phone.

  1. You have to download the software to your laptop and present it directly from your computer. This is a little annoying but definitely worth it given the convenience and effectiveness of it. 

  1. J Am Coll Radiol. 2012 Nov;9(11):828-31.
  2. J Grad Med Educ. 2014 Jun;6(2):335-7.
Additional Resources:
  1. More Of It  -- has other resources similar to Poll Everywhere

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