In this blog post, learn six interactive learning polls that will increase engagement for your instruction.

An excellent college course keeps students actively engaged. Not just maintaining students’ attention but creating an interactive classroom that asks students to use critical thinking skills, collaborate, and overcome challenges in reaching their personal learning milestones.

Use polls if you’re instructing online and want to make your classroom interactive. Polls are an easy-to-use tool that keeps active, two-way dialogue flowing. They offer a simple and efficient way for instructors to establish check-ins, track assessments, develop consensus, and provide students with quick and active learning opportunities.

Check out the interactive learning polls below to activate your students’ engagement all semester long.

1. Learn Student Motivations

How it Works

At the start of the semester, check in with students. Create a poll that asks why they joined the class.

“Why did you join this class?”

  1. For required credit toward my major
  2. This isn’t my major, but I’m interested in the topic
  3. I want to use this course for professional development
  4. I am deciding if I should pursue a major in this field

Why it Matters

Understanding their reasons for learning will help you better meet their needs. It also encourages unsure students to reflect on what they want to achieve. Then, after the first day of class, use motivation polls throughout the semester to keep tabs on their decisions.

2. Get Student Feedback

How it Works

Your classroom is for your students. So ask questions about what they want. Offer choices between assessments. Or, if designing an assessment, ask if they want to work asynchronously, independently, or in groups.

“For our weekly research sprint on precursors to the Harlem Renaissance, would you rather:

  1. Work independently with readings
  2. Work in small groups with readings
  3. Complete readings asynchronously, then discuss as a class
  4. Review a primary source synchronously in class, then work independently

Why it Matters

Incorporating student feedback will activate their potential and make your classroom a place they want to be. To support student-centered learning, ask questions about what they want. This includes what they want to learn or how they want to learn it.

3. Create Shared Schedules

How it Works

Time is of the essence, especially for students juggling multiple classes, work, and priorities. So when making time for learning, do it with them. Suggest blocks for office hours, group work, or formal instruction.

“For Philosophy 101-49 office hours, choose a time that works best for you.”

  1. Late evenings after dinner
  2. An hour after class
  3. An hour before class
  4. Asynchronously via email with independent time slots
  5. Other

Why it Matters

Polls create visibility for shared decisions, meaning students will stay accountable for their time. It shows them you’re considering their busy lives and helps avoid scheduling conflicts.

4. Encourage Creative Student Submissions

How it Works

It’s not all about administrative work; your class can get creative with polls, too! To help students get to know each other, try weekly poll submissions. Ask students to submit polls of their own, and feature a new one each week.

“Which microorganism best describes you?”

  1. Bacteria
  2. Archaea
  3. Fungi
  4. Algae
  5. Protozoa
  6. Viruses

Why it Matters

Use this as a segue to kick-off class. Or simply as a break in class during a long discussion. Highlight the contributor and help them make introductions to peers. These polls are just one way to help showcase your students’ personalities in a virtual space.

5. See How Much They Know

How it Works

Quizzes are a well-established method to measure assessment, and in the virtual classroom, polls help too. Use them for Informal check-ins on comprehension before proceeding to the next part of your syllabus.

“Who persuaded Macbeth to kill King Duncan?”

  1. The three witches
  2. Banquo
  3. Macduff
  4. Lady Macbeth

Why it Matters

Checking for understanding helps students assess their performance to themselves and others. The results of quiz polls might be insightful to you and them.

6. Support a Socratic Seminar

How it Works

If leading a discussion, use polls to inspire debate amongst differing student opinions. This can mean presenting students with options that offer different explanations or interpretations of a text or event. If all the options are reasonable, you might get divergent responses, which will help make the conversation thoughtful.

“In your opinion, what societal condition most contributed to the Great Recession (e.g., 2008-9)?

  1. Derivative selling
  2. Loose lending standards for house loans
  3. Over-zealous venture investment
  4. Subprime mortgages
  5. Stock-market collapse

Why it Matters

In addition to fostering dialogue, these polls help students better understand the holy grail of learning: Sometimes, there is no right or wrong answer.

Polls Activate Learning

When it comes to online instruction, it’s not just about the tools but how you use them. Strategies like interactive learning polls can deliver high-quality instruction, activate student engagement, and help make your classroom a place they want to be.

Christy O’Glee

Christy O’Glee works as an Account Executive at Class after spending a decade in education. She is passionate about increasing educational opportunities for K12 students through innovative technology. When not working, she can be found traveling and spending time with her family.

Christy O’Glee

Christy O’Glee works as an Account Executive at Class after spending a decade in education. She is passionate about increasing educational opportunities for K12 students through innovative technology. When not working, she can be found traveling and spending time with her family.

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