Abstract

Active learning pedagogy has been shown to improve student performance in engineering courses. One active learning technique is Peer Instruction, where students individually answer a poll question, and discuss answer choices with a classmate before answering the same question again. There are various options to conduct in-class polling, from low-tech options, such as holding up fingers or a colored card, to more costly digital technologies, such as commercial platforms that require a dedicated device or a student’s own mobile device. Previous studies have indicated that the pedagogy matters more than the platform or technology used to conduct polling. However, different platforms allow for different affordances not present in some low-tech options. The high-tech options afford some benefits, including being able to ask questions other than multiple choice, such as open response. The purpose of this study is to gain insight into student preferences and to explore benefits and disadvantages of the different platforms from an instructor prospective. Two groups of students were surveyed: one group who completed a course using Plickers, a low-tech system, and another group from two different courses who used the Top Hat Classroom application on their mobile devices. The survey results indicated that the students had a mostly positive experience with each platform. Benefits and drawbacks from an instructor perspective are described.

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Instructor and Student Experiences with In-Class Polling Options

Active learning pedagogy has been shown to improve student performance in engineering courses. One active learning technique is Peer Instruction, where students individually answer a poll question, and discuss answer choices with a classmate before answering the same question again. There are various options to conduct in-class polling, from low-tech options, such as holding up fingers or a colored card, to more costly digital technologies, such as commercial platforms that require a dedicated device or a student’s own mobile device. Previous studies have indicated that the pedagogy matters more than the platform or technology used to conduct polling. However, different platforms allow for different affordances not present in some low-tech options. The high-tech options afford some benefits, including being able to ask questions other than multiple choice, such as open response. The purpose of this study is to gain insight into student preferences and to explore benefits and disadvantages of the different platforms from an instructor prospective. Two groups of students were surveyed: one group who completed a course using Plickers, a low-tech system, and another group from two different courses who used the Top Hat Classroom application on their mobile devices. The survey results indicated that the students had a mostly positive experience with each platform. Benefits and drawbacks from an instructor perspective are described.