Enhancing Continuing Education Activities Using Audience Response Systems: A Single-Blind Controlled Trial

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We investigated whether using an audience response system (ARS) as part of continuing education (CE) activities enhances immediate and long-term knowledge acquisition or learner reactions.


A multicenter single-blinded controlled trial involving pharmacists at 2 metropolitan teaching hospitals was used for this investigation. Pharmacists were allocated to either (a) an interactive presentation incorporating multiple-choice questions (MCQs) answered using an ARS, or (b) the same, but noninteractive, presentation using summary points instead of MCQs. Baseline knowledge was evaluated using a 10-item questionnaire, which was also used to evaluate immediate and long-term (6 weeks later) knowledge acquisition. Learner reactions were evaluated through feedback questionnaires.


The control and ARS intervention presentations were attended by 44 and 35 pharmacists, respectively. The 6-week follow-up questionnaire was completed by 35 control (80%) and 27 (77%) ARS group participants. Baseline knowledge was similar across groups (5.0 ± 1.6 SD vs 5.2 ± 1.6; p = .44) with no differences in immediate (8.3 ± 1.5 vs 7.9 ± 1.5; p = 0.30) or long-term (7.0 ± 1.6 vs 7.0 ± 1.5; p = 0.93) knowledge acquisition. Feedback regarding the use of an ARS was overwhelmingly positive, with participants feeling more strongly that the ARS enabled them to compare knowledge to that of their peers (p < .001).


There was no observed benefit of an ARS in relation to immediate or long-term knowledge acquisition. The use of an ARS, however, appeared to facilitate enhanced interactivity and participant self-reflection of knowledge, with strong participant desire to continue their use in future CE activities.

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