Classroom Polling with Google Forms

One benefit of working within a community of practice is learning about instructional technologies together. Last week, Google officially updated Google Forms, making beta features introduced in September the default. The new design makes prominent the ability to display charts and graphs of form responses in real time. This enables instructors to use Google Forms the way we use classroom response systems (clickers) and web-based polling services like PollEverywhere.

Here is an example of how to use Google Forms for polling in a library instruction session:

  1. Create a Google Form containing poll or quiz questions designed to check students’ comprehension and stimulate discussion.

Create a poll question in Google Forms

(View the full poll – and respond, if you’d like – here.)

  1. Distribute the poll to students in class.

Because Google Forms are Shibbolized – that is, integrated with CNetID authentication – you can use a class roster to distribute polls. While this is not a new feature, it sets Google Forms apart by eliminating (1) the class time wasted as students type the poll URL into their devices and (2) the awkwardness and complexity of using clickers. Instructors can email polls to students before or during class using their CNetIDs. Polls are then accessible to students with just a few clicks on a laptop, phone, or any web-enabled device.

Alternately, polls can be embedded directly into course guides.

Screenshot of a Google Form embedded in LibGuides

  1. Prompt students to complete the poll and display the results as they respond.

Display of poll responses in Google Forms

Note that it is necessary to refresh the page to see new responses. Charts and graphs will not dynamically update as they do with clicker systems and PollEverywhere. This is a clear shortcoming. Still, Google Forms is free, familiar, and easy-to-use — all clear advantages.

I have focused above on how to conduct classroom polling with Google Forms. For a review of why to use classroom polling, I recommend 7 Things You Should Know about Clickers from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative.

During the UChicago custom ACRL Immersion program, we explored techniques to activate our classrooms, to put students in control of their learning rather than in passive, consumptive roles. Polling prompts students to share what they know and challenge and augment their peers’ understanding. By integrating polling into our teaching, we design instruction around students’ actual knowledge, enabling them and us to build on what is already known and actively clarify what is not.

Poll: Will you try classroom polling?