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Pedagogy, Technologies

Keep your students engaged and active with audience response tools

Using active learning techniques can benefit student learning outcomes and can also encourage student engagement. The audience response tool Poll Everywhere is a good way to encourage active learning through the use of a mobile phone or laptop.

The graph shows that using active learning leads to less students who fail class.
Freeman et al (2014) found a mean drop in failure rate with more active learning as this graph shows.

An active learning technique has been defined as “involving students in doing things and thinking about what they are doing”. There are numerous ways of creating an interactive learning environment that lecturers are already familiar with, using techniques like ‘think-pair-share’ activities, or encouraging discussion or interaction through standard means. These techniques encourage both individual and group collaboration.

digital pollingHowever, there is also evidence that certain groups of students (particularly female students) are nervous about asking questions in large group lectures. Also, more active students take charge and increase their impact on decision making. This is where technological tools such as audience response systems can help.

The King’s supported tool in this area is Poll Everywhere. While the most basic use is to have direct polling of students to check to understand there is a multitude of additional mechanism to get engagement from students. Some of them include:

  • It is very effective at finding areas of misconceptions. There are hundreds of potential misconceptions and being able to directly visually see where students are weaker and adjust accordingly can be a powerful tool. Getting feedback from students in-lecture is also useful.
  • Creating a moment of direct interaction, where all students feel able to participate (rather than the one or two who put their hands up) can potentially help improve class dynamics.

    an example question for word cloud
    A Poll Everywhere example

Effective use of an audience response system is well evidenced as having a beneficial effect on teaching and learning outcomes for large group teaching.  There are several tools that you can use, and there are some situations you may want to use Padlet, a tool that can encourage collaboration and brainstorming, (but some lecturers have found fiddly to set up). If you are looking for a quick, easy and effective way to engage large groups of students, you may want to attend training in the use of PollEverywhere.  It also fits in with the King’s Education Strategy aim of embracing students as ‘co-creators of the educational experience’.


photo of Michael DetynaWritten by Michael Detyna

Michael is passionate about education and has a keen interest in learning about the world. He investigates the problems and complexities of technology-enhanced learning practice and provides appropriate educational and technical guidance and advice to colleagues.



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