Classroom Voting and Interaction

Electronic Voting Systems

'Electronic voting systems' / 'student response systems' or 'polling' are used to activate students during lectures and comes in many shapes and forms. In the menu to the right are listed a few selected types that is used at DTU.


Motivate the students by giving them challenges – invite them to actively join in your "one-man entertainment show" by asking them questions along the way.
Feedback is an important part of the learning process as it helps implementing knowledge in the long-term memory, but it can be difficult to find the time to give all students feedback on their understandings. Polling provides an ideal way to both keep a class' attention and provide reflective activity to move the information into long-term memory. You can engage the students in the material and keep their interest - and as the results appear in real time, the students can see changes as they come in. Polling can be a helpful way of supporting students learning by forcing them to retrieve their (new and prior) knowledge and instantly get feedback from the teacher.

One use of polls is to gather knowledge about a subject before it is covered. This could e.g. be if the teacher wants to introduce a discussion and asks the students of their opinions - with polls everybody answers and the results can be used as an initiation and guide of the discussion.  Another option can be a lab instructor ask students to guess the results of an experiment before it is conducted to generate thoughts and interest in the outcome. Forcing students to take a position not only creates reflection but also commitment to the results. 

Ask questions and get answers from everybody

With voting devices you can make more students reflect on the subject during class because they have a task – further you get feedback on their understanding of what you are teaching. If there is a miss-match between what they understand and what your intention is – you can act upon it right away by adapting you teaching to the students’ needs. Further, you can correct misunderstandings before they spread.


8 points to remember when you want to ask questions with response systems and in multiple choice quizzes

  • Be sure to make all answers realistic. This helps the student to think instead of just guessing.
  • Ask concept questions – questions that promote students' conceptual understanding of the subject, rather than questions about rote learning where the students only have to memorize facts.
  • Formulate questions succinctly and accurately.
  • Avoid using contradicting words like 'not' as it is often overlooked or misunderstood.
  • Avoid making the correct answer significantly longer than the wrong ones, as it thus differs too much.
  • Formulate incorrect answers that distinctly differ from one another.
  • Make sure that incorrect answers are on your students' knowledge level. 

A way of using polls is Peer Instruction. Peer Instruction is about making the students reflect together before answering your question – this helps them formulate their doubts and understandings and supports discussion and instruction skills.

Example of how to implement Peer Instruction

Peer instruction is developed by Dr. Eric Mazur who teaches Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University. The process goes in a circle of these steps:

  1. Pose a question based on what the students have studied and prepared at home – give them a few minutes to think
  2. Students answer (vote with a clicker/CampusNet/mobile code) individually thus making a commitment to your question and subject matter
  3. The lecturer presents and summarizes the different answers - without giving the correct answer!
  4. Now the students have to pair up and discuss their answers with one or more fellow students who have answered differently than themselves (or just with the ones nearby)
  5. The students reply (vote) again – still individually
  6. The lecturer elaborates on the answers and subject if necessary and corrects misassumptions.
  7. The lecture continues with the next question (start at 1 again!)

Find more information

Watch the video “Peer Instruction for Active Learning” where Dr. Mazur explains his motivation for this method here.