Webinar recap: Using Mentimeter for interactive polling and questioning in learning and teaching

On Tuesday 19th October 2021, 55 staff from a wide range of different roles and departments across the University took part in this webinar which offered advice, inspiration, and ideas for effective use of Mentimeter polling to support teaching and learning.  

Dr Gerhard Kristandl from the Department of Accounting and Finance at the University of Greenwich is a Mentimeter ’empowered presenter’ who kindly joined us to provide some examples of how Mentimeter has been used at Greenwich to support innovative and engaging learning.  His interactive presentation included some hands-on activities using Mentimeter and offered some insights into the types of questions and activities that he had found to be particularly beneficial for students in his sessions.

He started with an example of an ice-breaker multiple-choice question that he regularly uses with new and apprehensive students to ease them in at the beginning of his module, chosen because it is low-stakes and fun but tends to divide opinion and allow for some elaboration and debate:

Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?

He described how, during sessions with his students, he typically follows this up with an open-ended question asking students for reasons and uses this to structure some discussion.  He has found Mentimeter to be particularly useful for such activities in large sessions allowing students to take part anonymously and to engage in different ways.

This structure of a straightforward poll with an opportunity for follows ups (either open-ended questions. or single word answers displayed as word clouds) is something that he has also found to be effective at the beginning of sessions or when introducing new topics.  He described how it allows him to gauge existing knowledge, share responses and opinions across the group in a dynamic and engaging way, adapt his sessions according to these responses, and ultimately “allow all voices to be heard, from the most vocal to the least”.  He provided a detailed example which uses the 2 x 2 grid question type to structure a discussion-based activity exploring the nature of leadership in one of his modules.

As part of regular module activities, Gerhard has also found the use of formative quizzes to be beneficial, from simple activities to check knowledge of the module handbook through to his ‘flagship application’ of Mentimeter in the ‘introduction to management accounting pub quiz league’.  Each week, students are provided with a ‘quiz competition’ Mentimeter poll based on the contents of resources for the week.  There is a series of timed questions, students score points for a correct answer and can increase their score by answering quickly.  The scores are carried over each week and prizes are awarded at the end.  Again, emphaisising the low-stakes and fun element of this activity, Gerhard described how the development of a spirit of competition through the module improved student engagement and momentum through the module.

Following Gerhard’s presentation, Emily Patterson (Third Year BSc Interactive Media student) and Jekaterina Mihhaljova (Master’s student in International Business and Strategic Management) provided an overview of recent research they carried out with University students (n=198) and staff (n=10) into the design and use of interactive polling for remote learning at York.  Their research suggested that live interactive polling is perceived as both engaging and useful.

They highlighted some of the features that were particularly valued including:

  • Question type: The need for variety and to carefully match the type of question to the situation rather than always relying on one question type alone.
  • Question intent: Using a mix of questions to encourage reflection and feedback as well as knowledge checking.
  • Visuals:  The opportunity to see an engaging visualisation of the data, e.g. by being able to compare results graphs or see the ‘story’ of the results appearing in real time as other students respond. 
  • Anonymity and inclusion: The opportunity to ask questions and engage in different ways and to reduce the risks involved in making a contribution and the fear of ‘getting something wrong’.
  • Communication and a feedback loop: Seeking regular feedback from students on their experiences of polling and making adjustments accordingly.

They made recommendations for effective polling practices based on these findings and many of these chimed with the examples and experiences Gerhard outlined in his own presentation.

If you would like to explore the webinar further,  please see the following links to view the recording (UoY Panopto log-in required) and resources (UoY Google docs).

Feedback from participants suggested that the examples and discussion were useful for participants who, based on the Mentimeter polls used during the session and for a pre-session survey beforehand, typically had some existing experience of using Mentimeter (35 out of 40 responses).  Use was spread fairly evenly between online synchronous sessions and in-person teaching and learning (both small and large group contexts).  Some of the existing uses made included:

  • Social/community building (e.g. getting to know you activities, warm up questions, ‘how are you today?’-type questions) – 15 responses
  • Diagnostics (e.g. finding out what students already know, what they need to focus on,  or what their priorities are) – 16
  • Testing knowledge of materials covered / confirming understanding – 12
  • Providing a channel for anonymous questions during a session – 10
  • Stimulating discussion (e.g. discussing choices in groups; comparing and justifying  responses; peer instruction) – 10
  • Seeking feedback on teaching from students – 6
  • Stimulating reflection with questions about learning, prioritisation and action planning – 6

A number of participants said that some ‘hands-on’ training on using Mentimeter would be useful and we will be looking to follow up with some opportunities for this in the next few weeks.  For anyone looking to explore further at this point, the Mentimeter academy offers beginners courses and webinars for those who might be interested in taking part.  We will also be looking to develop further case studies and further opportunities to share experiences, activities and questions/presentations that have worked well.

If you have questions or comments or you would be interested in sharing your experiences, please get in touch (rob.shaw@york.ac.uk / vle-support@york.ac.uk). If you would like to find out more about how to log in and create questions, please see the following University Mentimeter page.

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