Student perceptions of engagement using mobile-based polling as an audience response system: Implications for leadership studies

The increase in ownership and use of mobile-based devices among college students creates unique opportunities for faculty to develop highly engaging learning environments. With many educational institutions offering campus-wide Wi-Fi, students have the ability to use their mobile devices, including cell phones, tablets, and laptops for engaging with curriculum, specifically with leadership concepts. One method of engaging students is through the use of mobile-based polling, as an audience response system (ARS). Although most studies on the use of ARS in educational settings include traditional response system methods (e.g., clickers), emerging technologies have fueled interest in mobile-based polling. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects that mobile-based polling has among students of leadership when used as an audience response system. A survey regarding perceptions of mobile-based polling was administered to students enrolled in undergraduate leadership courses with the purpose of understanding its importance on various aspects of student engagement. Results regarding their polling experiences indicated that students became highly engaged on three levels—behaviorally, emotionally, and cognitively. Additionally, survey responses suggested that students viewed mobile-based polling as viable for purposes outside of the classroom. Suggestions for using mobile-based polling for learning leadership concepts are also presented. The authors of this study not only present mobile-based polling as an emerging technology with advantages over traditional clickers, but as a pedagogical approach for increasing student engagement and as a tool for enhancing leadership skills.