Mobile phone voting for participation and engagement in a large compulsory law course

  • Chad Habel University of Adelaide
  • Matthew Stubbs Adelaide Law School The University of Adelaide
Keywords: student response systems, pedagogy, VotApedia, constructivism, action research


This article reports on an action-research project designed to investigate the effect of a technological intervention on the complex interactions between student engagement, participation, attendance and preparation in a large lecture delivered as part of a compulsory first-year law course, a discipline which has not been the focus of any previous study. The technology used was VotApedia, a form of mobile phone voting, and it was implemented in tandem with constructivist pedagogies such as explicit pre-reading and a prior context of interactive lecturing. Data were collected through observation, via mobile phone voting in class and by an online survey designed to specifically explore the relationship between attendance at VotApedia lectures and factors such as self-reported engagement, attendance and preparation. The findings indicated that student response systems (SRSs) are just as applicable to more Humanities-style disciplines which require divergent questioning, and supported complex interactions between engagement, attendance and preparation. Preliminary findings indicated that, although more work needs to be done, especially on the types of students who prefer to use these systems, there is a clear potential to increase student engagement in large law lectures through the use of SRSs.

Keywords: student response systems; pedagogy; VotApedia; constructivism; action research

(Published: 08 April 2014)

Citation: Research in Learning Technology 2014, 22: 19537 -


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Author Biographies

Chad Habel, University of Adelaide
Chad completed his PhD in English Literature at Flinders University in 2006. His research focussed on ancestral narratives and identity in the work of Irish-Australian authors Thomas Keneally and Christopher Koch, which has now been published as a book entitled Ancestral Narratives. He started casual lecturing and tutoring in English and related disciplines in 2001, and has also worked as and Academic Advisor at Flinders' Student Learning Centre. His current role involves coordinating and teaching in the University Preparatory Program at the University of Adelaide, and lecturing in the School of Education.
Matthew Stubbs, Adelaide Law School The University of Adelaide

Matthew completed undergraduate degrees in Finance and Economics, and took a First Class Honours degree in Law, before undertaking the professional qualification and being admitted to legal practice as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of South Australia and the High Court of Australia.

Matthew then returned to academic life, taking the FA and MF Joyner Scholarship in Law, completing his PhD in Australian Constitutional Law at Adelaide Law School under the supervision of Professors Rosemary Owens and John Williams. He has also published in the fields of negligence, human rights and statutory interpretation.

After teaching in the School of Commerce in 2007, Matthew took up his position at Adelaide Law School in 2008.

Matthew is the Law School's Indigenous Students Liaison Officer and has a keen interest in the legal education of Indigenous people.

How to Cite
Habel C., & Stubbs M. (2014). Mobile phone voting for participation and engagement in a large compulsory law course. Research in Learning Technology, 22.
Original Research Articles