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This issue of CDTL Brief features three Teaching Enhancement Grant projects by colleagues from various departments and faculties.

April 2009, Vol. 12 No. 1 Print Ready ArticlePrint-Ready
Real-time Feedback/Teaching System: Development and Applications*
Associate Professor A. Tay, Associate Professor K.K. Tan and Professor T.H. Lee
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering


Timely feedback is crucial in effective teaching. In many instances, student feedback exercises are carried out only at the end of a semester. Till now, an efficient and systematic way of soliciting real-time classroom feedback is possible only in classrooms built with costly state-of-the-art infrastructure and equipment, and is usually limited to small classes. Otherwise, the ‘quick show of hands’ method has remained the only way to obtain immediate ‘yes/no’ feedback from a class. There are many scenarios where students’ real-time responses need to be analysed and consolidated, especially in large classes. For example:

• Conducting an instant assessment during the lecture/tutorial to assess students’   understanding of the material before proceeding to the next part of the course. Currently,   this is not possible unless each student is seated next to a computer.

• During an interactive laboratory session or field trip, where an instant assessment of   students’ understanding is crucial to determine how the teacher should respond.

Our objective is to develop a mobile real-time feedback system which can be utilised by all students without incurring any noticeable costs to students and the school, and without the installation of expensive equipment.

The Technology: Short Messaging System (SMS) on Mobile Phones

We used the Short Messaging System (SMS) on mobile phones as a feedback mechanism. The SMS system is usually based on the Global System for Mobile (GSM) modem or SMS Gateway as shown in Figure 1. We proposed a hybrid configuration and developed a SMS feedback web application based on the GSM modem as shown in Figure 2 (Tay & Tan, 2008). Users are able to create, view and send their feedback via SMS using either the Internet browser or mobile phone. The educator does not need to key in questions or surveys through a computer; he can enter all the information from his mobile device. The user is also able to access the final data through his mobile device. This expands the application of the feedback system as there is no need to access the web portal through a web browser, and student feedback can be easily obtained even during outdoor field trips.

Figure 1. The architecture of the SMS system

Figure 2. Key components of the SMS feedback system


The SMS feedback system ( was developed and tested in various modules and outreach activities. Once logged on, the user can see the SMS Feedback System Inbox (Figure 3) which contains a list of replies and links to the survey management system and so on.

Figure 3. Snapshot of SMS feedback system–Inbox

Sample Quiz in Small Group Teaching

A short quiz (Figure 4) was conducted on 27 August 2008 during a EE2010 “Systems and Control” lecture to test students’ comprehension of the class. Students were required to answer ‘1’ or ‘2’ for all five questions and send their answers in the following format: ‘ee2010 x x x x x’ to 82100082 via the system

Figure 4. Short-quiz questions from EE2010

37 of 41 (about 80%) students correctly answered the first four questions (see Table 1). However, only 20% of those who responded could answer Q5 correctly as it was based on the extension of a concept learnt during the lectures and details were covered only after the survey.

Student feedback was positive; many said that receiving instant feedback on their learning was useful. Two of the few students who did not respond did not have their mobile phones with them.

The system was also used in EE3302 “Industrial Control Systems” for conducting a survey to check students’ comprehension of various topics for subsequent revision.

Table 1. Survey results

Creating the Mobile Survey

Figures 5, 6, and 7 show how the mobile version of the survey is created. The user interface on the mobile phone (Figure 5) displays a list of items available when the application is started. Figure 6 shows the sequence for creating a new survey. Users are also able to view the survey results (Figure 7). Information is usually limited by the screen resolution of the mobile devices. However, with the availability of better and cheaper mobile devices, such applications will become more affordable.

Figure 5. SMS feedback mobile application—main menu

Figure 6. SMS feedback mobile application—creating a new survey

Figure 7. SMS feedback mobile application—viewing survey


Tay, A. & Tan, K.K. (2008). “Mobile real-time feedback/teaching system”. Presentation at International Conference on Teaching and Learning with Technology, 5–6 August 2008, Suntec City, Singapore.

* This paper was presented at the International Conference on Teaching and Learning in Higher    Education (TLHE), 3–5 December 2008, Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning,    National University of Singapore.

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Inside this issue
An Integrated Simulation
Problem-based Learning Activity
Effectiveness of the Classroom Response System in Tutorials
Real-time Feedback/
Teaching System:
Development and Applications