Artifact 2: Polling Tools
I integrated online polling into my guest lecture about my own research, and asked students to use Mentimeter at the end of the lecture to ask an open-ended question. Originally, I thought I would use multiple choice polling to gauge student learning of the topics. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the goal of the lecture was not to make sure students understood finer points of the science I talked about. Instead, the goal of the lecture was to get students interested in scientific research and to think critically about it. Thus, I chose an open-ended question rather than a poll for two reasons. First, the class is small, meaning I would have time to go through each question individually. Second, the lecture content was a departure from usual course material time during the semester I gave the lecture. The first half of the course (when I gave this lecture) is primarily focused on teaching the process of science, rather than going over specific scientific principles. Because this was a research talk, it was the first time students were exposed to scientific principles, rather than the scientific process, in the course. Because the class is meant for non-science majors, I approached the lecture the same way I have done when giving public science talks. The open-ended questions at the end were meant to get students thinking about the content I'd presented. After the lecture content (~20 minutes), I had students to to Mentimeter on their mobile devices and type in the given code. They were able to type questions into the form on their devices and they appeared on the screen in real time. After giving students a few minutes to think up and ask a question, I went through each question one-by-one and answered them.
The questions students asked were deep and insightful, and I enjoyed the process of going through each one-by-one. The students informally reported that they liked that they could anonymously post questions, because they didn't have to worry about pronouncing some of the more technical terms I used or struggling to be articulate out loud in front of their peers. I was a little surprised by how streamlined the actual technical process went. I simply exited my slide presentation and opened the browser window with the Mentimeter poll. I like that students didn't have to pay money or provide their email addresses to use the tool. Next time, I think I would try to integrate the multiple choice polling paired with peer instruction. This would be particularly useful in a larger class, where addressing individual questions would not be feasible.