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Medical Education
Technology Enhanced Education

Engaging the Learner with Live Polling

One of the most powerful tools to engage your students in the classroom is to use an Audience Response System, or ARS (defined here).  In the UCSF School of Medicine, the Technology Innovations group supports faculty in the use of the Poll Everywhere ARS for live polling. This is achieved by providing faculty and their supporting staff with workshops and materials that review basic account setup and the poll creation process.

Once an instructor has committed to using a live polling ARS tool, there are many ways to go about incorporating live polling into the classroom setting. The class session timeline below shows several of the ways that this can be done.



timeline of class session and strategies for using an ARS


A broad overview of the above strategies (Basic, Advanced, and Flipped) follows. For more thorough explanations, and ideas on how to use these strategies, download our Engagement Strategies document at the bottom of this page.


Basic Approaches

These approaches will get students onboard and participating in the classroom, and don’t require a great deal of advanced preparation:

  • identify a knowledge baseline
  • ice breakers
  • administrative questions
  • check-in
  • planning ahead
  • daily reflection
  • presentation voting
  • pre-exam exploration

For outside of the classroom:

  • survey - furnish students with a link to a poll survey at conclusion of lecture. The instructor can share the results of the survey at the next class session.


Advanced Strategies

You must plan in advance to write polls with this level of lecture integration.

  • lecture review/self-assessment (informal quiz) - gauge recall of material presented in class. If lecture is broken up into several ‘mini-lectures’, this technique can be used to cap the end of each segment with one or more questions.
  • ‘Introduce, Reinforce’ method – Involves spaced repetition. Similar/identical questions are presented throughout class.
 Early questions may prime students; later questions may assess understanding. This can aid in long-term knowledge acquisition.
  • collaborative learning (a.k.a. think-pair-share) - after presenting the question, ask students to break up into pairs (or small groups), discuss, then answer together. Can also be used as part of a Peer Instruction strategy.


Flipped Classroom Techniques

  • active review (informal quiz) - review the material students were expected to learn before class to gauge their recall.
  • steering the lecture - Instructor can use this strategy to shift focus of lecture, by walking through difficult concepts & cases.


Read our Audience Response Systems: Engagement Strategies to get a thorough overview of the ideas presented on this page.