Making the Most of Classroom Polling

H. Naomie Nyanungo
Making the Most of Classroom Polling

Polling tools, sometimes referred to as classroom or student response systems, are great for engaging students in virtual or face-to-face learning environments. Polling tools such as Poll Everywhere, Vevox, Mentimeter and others can help faculty to assess how well students are grasping new concepts. Used effectively, classroom polling activities can create opportunities for students to provide feedback, pose questions and share reflections during class. Teachers also use classroom polls to facilitate collaborative learning. In this blog, we share strategies for effectively using classroom polling activities to enhance active learning and student engagement.

  • Plan for execution and follow-up: It is important to have a plan for what happens before and after each polling activity. The plan should include details on what will happen (e.g., lecture, class activity) before the poll is administered, how student poll responses will be used (e.g., to identify learning gaps), and if student participation will be graded. Also think about how you will follow up (e.g. give feedback or address questions) and integrate the polling activity with other activities in the classes.
  • Communicate with students: It is a good idea to communicate the purpose and plan for classroom polling to students so that they understand how this is contributing to their learning. Articulate expectations for participation in polling activities. Doing a few practice polling activities is a good way to get everyone familiar with the tool and process. Be sure to check if all your students have access to the technology required to participate, and offer alternative ways for participation for those that may not have access. 
  • Consider your learning goals when writing questions: Polling can be used to achieve a variety of learning goals, such as recall of foundational concepts or application of concepts. It is good practice to write polling questions that support specific learning goals. Types of polling questions include those that ask students about content, application, individual perspective and progress on specific learning activities. You can read more about different types of polling questions targeting different learning goals.
  • Vary the types of polling activities: Take advantage of the versatility of polling tools by using different polling activities throughout the semester. This will go a long way toward sustaining student engagement and avoid monotony. There is a wide range of polling activities to pick from such as active lecturing, peer instruction, group work, and learning assessments. Look through this list of descriptions and examples of polling activities for inspiration. Feel free to adapt these activities to your specific context.

We hope that these strategies will help you to effectively use polling to increase student understanding and engagement with you, their peers and course content. Should you need any support, the team of consultants at the CAT is here to help. Please visit our website to book an appointment with a consultant or visit our virtual and on-site educational technology labs.


Happy polling!




H. Naomie Nyanungo is Director of Educational Technology at Temple University's Center for the Advancement of Teaching.

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