After you’ve introduced your class to the concept of derivatives, how can you be sure your students understood the topic? How can you increase student-to-student interaction? So many teachers feel like they only get feedback from the most outgoing students. They wonder what the quieter students are thinking and how much of the lesson the class really understands.
Great educators know that teaching is not a one-way street. Getting students involved and engaged is key to helping lessons stick. Technology that builds engagement can help students learn better.
When teachers want to get feedback from the class, it’s easy to just ask for a show of hands. But the response might not be so clear. Answers may not necessarily be in the form of a yes or no. Students may cave to peer pressure and vote with the majority, regardless of how they really feel.
Teachers can also ask students to give verbal answers, but this can get hairy too. Students have to wait and take turns to speak, which means not everyone may get a chance. Some students who are more vocal may speak first, so others are less likely to voice an opposing opinion. Students who have questions, or those who are confused, may be hesitant to admit this in front of their classmates.
Surveys and polls give teachers tools to use to elicit student opinions. Newer technology, such as audio response systems (clickers) and web-based software linked to mobile devices, offers teachers a way to get an answer from every student.
Polls and surveys provide several advantages in a classroom.
One of the most popular technologies for surveying and polling is the clicker. One of the leading brands, iClicker, is a small handheld device, about the size of a remote. Each student has his or her own clicker and can press the appropriate button when the teacher shows the prepared question on the board. The teacher can ask questions that are multiple choice, true or false, or yes or no.
Another option is web-based software that allows students to complete polls and surveys by responding through their mobile devices. Popular software includes Socrative, Poll Everywhere, and Survey Anyplace. With these options, teachers can create surveys in advance or on the fly, and students can respond via SMS text.
Educators are using polls and surveys to increase interaction at all levels of teaching, from elementary school to higher education. They’re also using them in a variety of subject areas including economics, physics, math, philosophy, psychology, computer science, and communication.
Here are some ideas for using polling tools in your classroom:
Getting student feedback is essential in helping a teacher know how the class is progressing. Polls and surveys increase the likelihood of getting honest answers and greater participation from the class. And, with technology that simplifies the process, polls and surveys can be an integral part of an educator’s lesson plan.
Editor’s note: This piece was originally written by Jeff Dunn and ran on April 2, 2012. A lot has changed since then, so we’ve had author Pamela DeLoatch update this piece with the latest techniques and innovations.