Audience Response Systems
Audience Response Systems (ARS) are used in classrooms of all sizes to engage participants by facilitating interactions among the students and the instructor. Instructors use audience response technologies to communicate with learners and collect feedback on questions. Learners respond to these questions using their own web-enabled devices, such as a phone, tablet, or laptop computer. These interactions can help instructors increase student participation, facilitate discussion, assess students’ understanding of concepts, and provide immediate feedback.
Poll Everywhere is the Audience Response System licensed by Columbia University and offered for free to support Teaching and Learning at Columbia. All Columbia University instructors can obtain a Poll Everywhere Presenter account. To get started using Poll Everywhere in your classroom please login here. If you are interested in using Poll Everywhere for some other purpose, please email ColumbiaCTL@columbia.edu and we will consider your request.
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Scroll down to learn more about teaching with ARS and how you can get support from the CTL for using Poll Everywhere.
ARS at Columbia
Here are some examples of how Columbia faculty are using ARS to enhance teaching and learning:
- Assessing student understanding of important concepts during a lecture in the College of Dental Medicine
- Check if preassigned readings were completed and receive immediate course feedback
- Techniques for Just-in-Time Teaching in a Medical School Course
- Using anonymous responses to identify errors in tone and pronunciation in a Mandarin Chinese course
Watch a short video of Carolyn Marvin using Poll Everywhere in her introductory neuroscience course to encourage discussion and engage students.
Why Use ARS?
- Promote active participation: ARS can be used to engage students with the content the instructor is teaching by allowing the instructor to pose questions in-the-moment during the lecture.
- Check for understanding: How does the instructor know if students are understanding what they are being taught? How do students know for themselves if they are learning? ARS is a great way to help students test their own understanding of the content. As they respond to questions they can see if their answer is correct or not through immediate classroom feedback. The instructor is also able to check for understanding through asking intentional and meaningful ARS questions that may highlight misconceptions or promote critical thinking.
- Create a safe environment when discussing sensitive topics and engage students with different learning preferences: Students can respond to ARS questions anonymously. Responses the instructor receives through polling can be used as conversation starters on challenging or difficult topics. Responding to questions anonymously also removes the barrier of being afraid of being wrong and helps to engage students who may not normally speak up in class.
- Promote discussion and peer instruction: During class, an instructor can ask an ARS question to their students. Based upon how varied the student responses are, the instructor can ask the students to talk to a peer near them who had a different response. This provides for an opportunity for discussion and peer instruction as students try to explain to one another the reason for their response. The instructor can then repoll the students with the same question and see if there are any changes in student responses and continue the discussion as a whole class.
The CTL offers a range of in-person services and online resources for instructors learning how to introduce Poll Everywhere in their teaching.
- Email ColumbiaCTL@columbia.edu to set up a consultation or contact the CTL Learning Designer assigned to your school or department. Our learning designers help promote the purposeful use of educational technologies for hybrid and online education.
- Contact the CTL during walk-in and call-in hours.
- Access the CTL’s Knowledge Base about Poll Everywhere where you can find how-to documents about Poll Everywhere at Columbia University.
- Poll Everywhere Instructor Guide
- Poll Everywhere Student Guide
- Poll Everywhere Best Practices for Presenters Guide
- Poll Everywhere How to Introduce Poll Everywhere video
- TurningPoint Asking Meaningful Questions
The CTL researches and experiments.
The Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning provides an array of resources and tools for instructional activities.