The Value of Polling Apps

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Real time feedback tools, like polling apps or clickers, let faculty efficiently assess comprehension and get real time feedback from learners. Over 50 years ago, this technology started with push button responders, eventually moving to handheld clickers.

Now, we have more modern solutions to more modern realities. Most learners have a smartphone, or can partner up. People can participate from any location in the world.

Best Practices

Like any other classroom activity, participation in live response activities should be managed by the facilitator. Set up for success when using live polling apps:

Quizzes

Gamification, generally, helps renew interest and curiosity in course content. Quizzing apps, like Kahoot! and Quizziz can add novelty and fun to the learning experience, and support learning through spaced repetition and retrieval practice. But the effects of these kinds of quizzes and games for learning may not be long lasting. Sanchez, Langer and Kaur (2019) were able to determine that gamified quizzes temporarily improve student performance on assessments, but this effect doesn’t last longer than the test for which they are preparing. Gamified quizzes also may overtly advantage learners who are already successful, and may not be as advantageous for struggling learners.

Discussion Generators

Formative Assessment

Formative assessments aim to determine what a learner already knows, or identify gaps in basic concepts or knowledge. These are not tests and usually ungraded, but seek to measure learner’s existing knowledge in broad comparison to their peers.

Use a polling app at the beginning of a unit to determine what learners already know. Build a short question set of 2 to 10 questions to determine the body of knowledge a class already possesses. Most polling apps are live, and will display results in real time in front of students. This lets learners measure their own position compared to their peers, in a safe, low-stakes environment.

A formative assessment could involve:

  • Determining whether learners can already define or explain key vocabulary or concepts;
  • Recalling key concepts from a previous unit or course in the program;
  • Listing required materials or ingredients;
  • Identifying equipment or components;
  • Choosing the correct label for a diagram item.
Extract from “Spectrum of Effective Questioning” from Teaching and Learning Conestoga, 2018.

Each of these types of questions is in the lower, Knowledge order of the Spectrum of Effective Questioning. Further formative assessment approaches will want to move on to more open ended question strategies. Try question types app which will allow you to ask more open ended questions, or consider other ways to facilitate class discussions.

Active Viewing

Embed a video in a Kahoot! to promote active viewing strategies. This lets you quiz, discuss and reform learning with them.

Lead into a clip by asking questions that:

  • Make predictions about what’s likely going to happen in the video;
  • Identify correct steps in the procedure;
  • Relate to a prior similar scenario or topic that was explored;
  • Point out common misconceptions or errors.

Show a clip, and follow it up with a few targeted questions that might challenge students to:

  • Notice incorrect details or inaccuracies;
  • Point out verbal, nonverbal or environmental cues;
  • Determine the cause or effect of an action;
  • Point out missing steps in a procedure;
  • Make predictions about what might happen next in a situation;
  • Revisit an opinion from the beginning, comparing the two;
  • Re-assess their knowledge on the topic with similar questions to the beginning.

Don’t be shy about showing the video clip more than once – multiple viewings should add to the depth of their learning.


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  • Published: February 8, 2020
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  • Reading time: ~ 3 minutes
  • Rights: Creative Commons CC-BY Attribution License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons CC-BY Attribution 4.0 International License.
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Jess Wilkinson

Jesslyn is the Educational Technology Officer at Conestoga. An Ontario Certified Teacher, and holding a B.A. and B.Ed., Jesslyn researches and promotes new technologies for faculty to enhance pedagogical practices. She brings to the role her experience as a Google and Microsoft certified technology trainer and as a classroom teacher in South Korea, Mongolia, and Ontario, focusing on special education and assistive learning technologies. She is available for workshops, consultations, and support with using technology in higher education contexts.

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