Polling is a great method to break up lectures, webinars, or even written content. We have a few options for polling that are available: Poll Everywhere and polling in Zoom.

Here are some introductory resources on how to use Poll Everywhere and Zoom in your classroom and videos:

When to Use Polling

Polling, used in the correct circumstances, can be an interactive tool to engage your learners. However, polling should not get in the way of the learning experience. Here are some resources that can help you decide when and how to use polling in your online classroom:

5 Ways to Use Polling Tools in the Classroom

  • Have a quick quiz or competition
  • Check understanding
  • Track attendance
  • Gain feedback from students
  • Have a question and answer session

Polling Students to Check Understanding

  • Students who are normally quiet are likely to participate in a poll
  • Students report that they are more active and engaged
  • Increased motivation
  • Questions help clarifications
  • Students can use technology
  • Helps the instructor

Best practices: Polling to promote student voice

  • Additional ways to poll students including the assessment functions in an LMS in addition to polling students through a software like Poll Everywhere and Zoom.

Writing Polling Questions

One overlooked part of including polling in a class is writing good polling questions. If you have written survey questions for research, the same principles apply. However, if you have not written survey questions, or need a refresher, here are some tips:

Don’t ask two questions at once.

This may seem obvious but it’s very easy to make this mistake. It’s better to break a question into two if you find a question that asks the user two things at once.

  • Not Quite: How would you rate the course content and videos in this lesson?
  • Better: How would you rate the course content in this lesson. OR How would you rate the videos in this lesson?

Avoid negative wording – It is very difficult to understand what is being asked.

  • Not Quite: What isn’t your least favorite way to develop a new hypothesis?
  • Better: What is your least favorite way to develop a new hypothesis?

Don’t answer the question for the user. Specifically avoid leading questions.

  • Not Quite: What word comes to mind when you think of this cutting-edge cancer research?
  • Better: What word comes to mind when you think of this cancer research?

Avoid wordiness. Keep the questions as brief as possible.

If you find that your questions are very long, consider adding the extra information to the course content.

  • Not Quite: When this course was developed we wanted interactivity to be a major component. We hired an instructional designer to come in and look at our current content and she developed an interactive to help you learn how to work with patients with mental illnesses. What is one word that would describe your opinion of the course’s interactives?
  • Better: What is one word that you would use to describe this course’s interactives?

For multiple-choice questions, make sure you can list all the conceivable options.

For example, a question on favorite foods would be a bad choice for multiple choice unless you had an “other” choice. Ex: What is your favorite leisure activity?

  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Reading
  • Biking

What is your favorite day to do your favorite leisure activity?

  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday
  • Sunday

Don’t force answers

Unless it’s tied to a course grade, do not force the students to answer a polling question. Some people choose not to participate, and that’s ok. If one doesn’t want to participate in an opinion or thoughts question and they are forced to do so, it might create frustration.


Here are some resources on how to write good polling questions: