Rules of Engagement: Using tournaments to increase student engagement and performance

Nathan Sherburn, Stephen Maloney, Jonathan Li

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


The widespread ubiquity of mobile and web technology enables the implementation of innovative teaching practices. Arguably the most recognised application of blended learning technology is the‘flipped classroom’ which typically involves pre-class instruction therefore allowing greater flexibility within class for interactive activity. To assist lecturers in engaging with large audiences, a simple to use, but powerful web based audience response system, ‘MARS’, was developed to enable interactivity between students and lecturers via their mobile devices during normal lectures over the course of semester. Additionally, leading up to the final exam, MARS was used to conduct a supplementary and voluntary ‘revision tournament’ in the last week of semester. In this tournament,students were posed 30 time-limited questions which MARS calculated and scored in real-time.
The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the student perception of the revision tournament and identify any correlations between performance in the final exam and participation in the tournament.
A mixed methods approach was utilised to evaluate the impact of the tournament-based approach in using an audience response system for enhancing the learning experience and learning outcomes.Student performance in the tournament was correlated with final exam marks, whilst a qualitative survey instrument provided greater insights into the learners’ perceptions of the approach.
Students tended to enjoy the tournament and particularly found it valuable for revealing areas in need of revision. While participation in the tournament appeared to be helpful for revision, tournament performance was only very weakly positively correlated with exam performance.
The study found that conducting a tournament using an audience response system can be an efficient method of engaging students in a novel and enjoyable way – allowing them to reflect on the content that they have or have not mastered in the lead up to their final exam.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication27th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference, AAEE2016
Subtitle of host publicationCoffs Harbour, Australia, 4-7 December, 2016
Place of PublicationLismore, NSW
PublisherSouthern Cross University
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9780994152039
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2016
EventAAEE - Annual Conference of Australasian Association for Engineering Education 2016: The Changing Role of the Engineering Educator for developing the Future Engineer - Coffs Harbour, Australia
Duration: 4 Dec 20167 Dec 2016
Conference number: 27th


ConferenceAAEE - Annual Conference of Australasian Association for Engineering Education 2016
Abbreviated titleAAEE 2016
CityCoffs Harbour
Internet address


  • Audience response system
  • Flipped classroom
  • Engagement

Cite this