What is it?
Polling software allows learners to participate in real time polling activities using a mobile device, tablet or computer. Mentimeter is a type of polling software that can operate from within or outside of PowerPoint, making it suitable for use in teaching sessions. Polling software facilitates a 'flipped classroom' approach to teaching and learning. Instructors can collect and analyse feedback instantly or after their sessions through automatically generated reports.
How might I use it?
Active learning is at the heart of polling software which encourages interaction and enables students to become more involved in their learning. Rather than a one-way ‘transmission’ type of delivery from an academic in a traditional lecture, it is possible to measure whether the cohort have actually understood the material, and to adjust the teaching material accordingly. Of course, many lecturers will be doing this already without polling software by asking for a show of hands or encouraging questions from students. However, polling software can make the process easier by exploiting current technology that will be familiar and comfortable for most students.
The ability to easily gauge students’ understanding can be a powerful tool, particularly in large lectures where the sheer number of students represent a challenge for student interactivity. The anonymous nature of polling software can also be more comfortable for students who feel intimidated by a show of hands or are reluctant to ask questions directly. It encourages students to participate who might otherwise not contribute.
As an academic it is possible to better gauge students’ understanding of the material by asking relevant questions. Students are generally much more involved in the learning process and seem to enjoy a more interactive lecture experience. Polling software can also act as an 'exit ticket' at the end of a session.
How do I prepare students to use it effectively?
Students may already be familiar with polling software as many will have used online quizzes and apps throughout their school life. You may need to give some students prior warning that you will be using polling software in upcoming teaching sessions. Before the session remind students to bring a charged mobile device or laptop..
During the session display the session ID on the board. Allow extra time in your first session for technical issues and treat it as a trial run if you have not used polling software before - perhaps include just two questions before using the tool in more depth in subsequent sessions. Be explicit about the purpose of using polling software, e.g. for formative assessment, for research, for anonymous feedback, or to stimulate discussion.
What are the pros & cons?
- Students can respond and see the responses of their peers in real time.
- Mentimeter can integrate with PowerPoint.
- Polling software can create an engaging and interactive learning environment.
- Use polling software to check your audience’s understanding of a topic. Instructors can see results immediately and use these to inform discussion and address misconceptions.
- A range of question types are available, from multiple-choice to word clouds.
- Data can be identifiable by person or made anonymous.
- Detailed results enable further analysis, for example for research purposes or course evaluations.
- Students can use their own devices to take part in polling.
- Students can suffer from 'question-fatigue' if polling software is used too often.
- Mentimeter has a range of different versions and options for polling, so time needs to be invested in learning which of these are best suited for your context.
- Students without their own devices may need to share a device with a fellow student, loan a laptop, or investigate funding opportunities to access one.
- Mobile devices require a stable internet connection and battery power.
Electronic Voting in Lectures - Dr Ben Metcalfe, Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, University of Bath
Further reading and References
Shane Donohue (2014) Supporting active learning in an undergraduate geotechnical engineering course using group-based audience response systems quizzes, European Journal of Engineering Education, 39:1, 45-54.
- Engaging Learners
- Assessment and Feedback
Access the Mentimeter Helpdesk
UK Professional Skills Framework
For advice on using polling to enhance learning, teaching and assessment contact the TEL team: email@example.com
For technical support in GTA rooms contact the AV team through Top Desk