Faculty at a lunchtime conversation on 13 October shared quiz questions and open-ended questions that were used to engage students in a class. The questions that students answer on their mobile phones were created using a response system called Poll Everywhere.
Highlights from the event included an exchange of effective questions that faculty used to engage students in discussion and classroom activities. Participants explained in detail how their questions were used in their classroom activities. Challenges and tips to overcome challenges were also discussed.
A few of the most effective questions and how the questions were used to start discussions or build knowledge are described below.
Open-ended questions were used at the start of class to engage students in course content. Students answer the questions that were displayed on the projection screen in class on their mobile devices.
The most engaging questions were often ones that asked students to relate their experience to a course reading. An example of this type of question for a philosophy course was an open-ended question that invited students to provide the name of a person who had a good life. The responses from students were visible on the projection screen in the classroom. Next, students were invited to elaborate on the responses, and typically enjoyed this activity which helped introduce ideas contained in a course reading.
A potential problem with anonymous open-end questions is that students might submit off-topic remarks or emoji. 😊One solution offered by faculty was to enable a response moderation feature. This feature could be managed with the assistance of a teaching assistant. A teaching assistant can use the moderation feature to show only reasonable responses, which can help keep a class of students focused on the topic at hand. This feature works with Poll Everywhere’s open-ended questions and Q&A questions.
Questions that were effective in stimulating discussion were often ones that asked students think about a common misconception, and then take a side, e.g. “Where does most of a tree’s mass come from?” or “Do we use only 10% of our brains?” These types of question were usually a multiple-choice question. Then, a bar chart summarizing the students’ responses to one of these multiple-choice questions was then made visible on the classroom projection screen. The results of a question would then be discussed in pairs, and then with the whole class.
Traditional quiz questions were also used to check students’ understanding of concepts, homework, or reading assignments. A series of multiple-choice questions can be administered to students in the form of a survey, so students can answer quiz questions before class, or in class at their own pace.
Faculty interested in obtaining a University of Macau Poll Everywhere account can get more information at https://ctle.umac.mo/portfolio-items/poll-everywhere/.