How to Increase Student Engagement in Your Online Course with Polls

Last updated on: October 10, 2023

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Engagement is a key element to student success in an online classroom. To increase student engagement in your online course, consider incorporating polling features into various activities. Polling allows students to share their perceptions and interact with each other, and also informs facilitators about the course participants and allows them to assist in setting the tone for a successful section.

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Polls are an effective tool in an online course because they can:

  • Connect students in the course with each other so they can share their thoughts about particular topics
  • Introduce a topic or activity in a more engaging way
  • Provide useful information about students’ preparation and progress
  • Help guide students and focus their learning

Polls are very easy to set up and use, and can be a valuable addition to an online course. There are a variety of ways for a faculty member to implement this activity:

1. Check Preparedness

If students seem unprepared at the beginning of a course or an assignment, a poll can be used to check their prerequisite knowledge. This has three benefits:

  • Based on the responses, links can be added to materials to help students refresh or increase their prerequisite knowledge.
  • If there is group work in the course, a poll can provide information that can help form stronger groups with more diverse backgrounds and knowledge.
  • As the course is taught more often, poll results can provide student data that can inform what types of revisions need to be made to the course to improve student success.

2. Grab Attention

If there is a particular assignment or activity that involves two perspectives, a poll is a great way to to ask the key question that will kick off the activity. This also can grab the students’ attention and orient them to the focus of the activity.

3. Gauge Understanding

A quick poll is an effective post-assignment activity to gauge students’ understanding or opinion of the assignment.

4. Overcome Barriers

A poll can be used in an activity to pose a question that will provide a clue for students on where to begin, or to help them overcome barriers for a more difficult assignment.

Polls are just one example of a variety of ways to increase student engagement in your online course. Please comment on our Twitter or Facebook page to share how you use, or plan to use, a polling feature in your course.

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