PollQ Co-Founder Chirag Desai interviews Dr. Jessica Poulin from University at Buffalo about how she keeps her students active and engaged by combining strategic polling with her passion for the material.
From your experience and/or research, what have you found helps with engaging your students both in and out of class?
Being enthusiastic about the material. If I'm into it, they tend to be into it. In general, I LOVE what I lecture about and that enthusiasm is infectious. Also, being available. Students respond to knowing you care about them and *want* to help them. Last, fostering accountability and high standards. I don't think availability and helping students helps them to really succeed without this piece. I ask a lot of my students and expect a lot of them. They seem to like this. :)
What are some things you look for in a technology before deciding that it will be effective and useful in your classrooms?
It needs to integrate with what already works in the classroom, not take away from it. There's a lot that good educators do well that has been going on since pre-technology days. We don't want to lose those pieces. Also, my technology can't put barriers between me and my students. A lot happens face to face and I want to keep that. At the same time, especially with big classes, technology can help students feel like they get to talk to me (even if I can't answer them all individually), which fosters the relationship. Related to the previous question, good technology also should foster accountability, which is the main reason I use it. It helps me to know how students are doing - both so I can reach out to them, but also so they know I know how they are doing/if they are paying attention. Last, it has to be easy to use and affordable.
How did you use polling in your class, and how did this help you engage your students and vice versa?
I use PollQ to take attendance and to give students exposure to exam style questions. The attendance piece gets them in the room, which helps me to do my regular good work. The exam questions gives them insight into what tests will be like, which limits anxiety and helps with test prep. It also helps students know how much they need to study! I have the students collaborate on the test questions and that helps break up the lecture and make parts of it feel hands on and also social.