The benefits and challenges of large-scale deployment of electronic voting systems : University student views from across different subject groups
Electronic Voting System (EVS) is a classroom technology that provides a means to increase students’ engagement, attention and attendance. The purpose of this paper is to provide a deeper insight into students’ views on the benefits and challenges of EVS in the context of a large-scale institutional deployment and across different subject areas in higher education. The data were collected from an online survey of 590 students across eleven academic schools at a UK university. The non-linear principal component analysis of 32 question items from the survey showed that learning benefits, classroom-related benefits, usability and student-centered challenges are four distinctive dimensions in students’ perceptions of the use of EVS. The non-parametric group comparison tests suggested that there are significant differences in learning benefits and challenges across different subject groups. However, the disparity appears to be related more to the way the EVS was used and the experience of students with it, rather than resulting from disciplinary differences. Content analysis of open questions revealed that summative use and staff competencies are the main issues related to EVS use by students. Finally, despite the overwhelming perception of the ease of use, it was found that usability could be an issue for students when EVS was used for summative assessment. The implications of the study are: for practitioners, it underlines the importance of the focus on formative benefits of EVS as only then and regardless of disciplinary differences, can the promised rewards of the technology be gained; for institutions, it outlines some of the new challenges specific to the large-scale institutional implementation, judged through the lens of students’ experience; for researchers, it provides an overview of the literature on large-scale deployment of EVS and it suggests some new areas for research on the use of EVS in higher education.