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Digital Literacy

Classroom Response Systems & Poll Everywhere

Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton on Unsplash

A growing number of faculty at the undergraduate college are using ‘clickers’ or classroom response systems in their classes to promote engagement and interactivity. Instructors in disciplines as diverse as Religion, Economics, Biology and Physics are using clickers in their classes.

Originally, clicker systems required dedicated hardware (the actual clicker) and database software to collect the responses on a local computer. Now, with an online tool called Poll Everywhere, students can respond to questions posed by their professor with their mobile devices: smartphones, laptops, or tablets. This has greatly simplified the implementation and use of classroom polling. Responses are uploaded to PollEverywhere’s cloud-based platform and the results displayed in real time via the web. The ability to ask your class a question and instantly see and share the results can provide insights and assist in identifying topics and concepts that need more attention. For instructors who use PowerPoint, Keynote or Google Slides, poll questions can be integrated into the slide decks and made to appear at the desired point in the presentation.

Advantages of using a classroom response system include:

  • Increase and maintain students’ attention during a lecture
  • Promote student engagement
  • Check student comprehension during class
  • Identify troublespots in the presentation
  • Promote discussion and collaboration among students
  • Make it easier for introverted students to participate. Also advantageous for non-native English speakers (assuming English is the language of instruction)

Some of the most common polling strategies include:

  • Formative assessment: posing questions in class after covering key concepts to gauge the level of student understanding
  • Review: posing questions at the beginning of a class to determine the level of understanding of assigned readings
  • Summative assessment: graded quizzes, polls and surveys. These can also be available online for student review with the correct answers indicated
  • Discussion warmup: posting a question as the lead-in to a class-wide discussion
  • Repeated questions: students are polled twice, once when the question is first posed and then again after discussing the question with a neighbor
  • Anonymous polls: can be used in small or large classes to ask controversial questions that students might be uncomfortable answering verbally

Faculty interested in learning more about Poll Everywhere

Middlebury has a limited number of paid licenses available with the company Poll Everywhere. (There is also a free version, if you’d like to try it out on your own.) Please contact dlinq@middlebury.edu to express interest in getting access to a license.

To learn more about Poll Everywhere and how you might use it in your classes, please schedule a consultation with Shel Sax. You can find him in the Digital Pedagogy & Instructional Tools category.

Useful Resources:

Much of the information above is taken from the two following sites:

For more information on how to create polling questions, please see:


Featured Image by Jeffrey Hamilton on Unsplash

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