Consider live polling in class to increase student participation

Raise your hand if you’d like to see more student participation during a class meeting. Now, what if that could give you a clear sense of what all of your students understand?  Those of you with your hands still raised may benefit from live polling in your classes. 

You may already be familiar with live polling tools and have used them in a class meeting, or have answered questions yourself in an online gathering.  I’d like to learn about your experiences with polling tools and techniques or pique your interest and help you explore the available possibilities.  

What are some of the reasons that you might consider using live polling tools?

  • To receive student answers to a variety of question modes and prompts (T/F, multiple choice, short answers).
  • To allow for anonymous participation
  • To quickly gauge the level of student understanding of a concept.
  • To capture student responses for credit and grading over time.
  • To create polls ahead of time and integrate them into class slide presentations or within Brightspace.
  • To create polls “on-the-fly” during class.
  • To share results of a poll with a group in real time.

Is there one tool that can do all of the above (and at no cost)?  Probably not, and there is much to consider, like features, costs, compatibility, privacy, account or device requirements, and accessibility. Others have done the work to evaluate and create comparisons, so this is a small list of polling tools to begin some exploration. 

Google Forms

Polling for Meetings in Zoom



Top Hat




Clicker Response System from TurningPoint, now Echo360

Evan Joslin, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, has this to share about her experience using polling with clickers in her classes:

Clickers also require the students to stay engaged in the material.  Students are graded for accuracy on clicker questions and this directly impacts their grade (5% overall). The clicker questions are placed throughout the entire class and encourage students to ask questions since although every student earns half credit for answering the question the only way to receive full credit is to answer it accurately.” 

When you have questions about live polling, the related research, the tools and techniques, or the support for this, I would love to know and to explore them with you!

Heidi Syler

Director, Information Literacy and Instructional Technology

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