Student Polls: Real-Time Assessment in Biotechnology

Print Lesson


Students will be able to analyze feedback in order to determine how they can better meet lesson objectives or outcomes by engaging in open dialogue about data generated during live polling of class participants.

Big Idea

Student polling enables instructors to use student voice to drive every aspect of our instructional practice in real-time!


10 minutes

Getting student feedback is essential in helping a teacher take the pulse of the class and have data of which to base the instructional moves, pivots and turns that are necessary for students to gain mastery of the content being explored. Polls and surveys increase the likelihood of getting honest answers, greater participation, authentic engagement and by-in from the members of our classroom communities. More than ever polls and surveys can be an integral part of every instructor's toolbox with the use of various online, digital, computer, and smartphone technology. 

How to Create Student Polls in Real-Time

1. Student Poll #1 - Timed Writing Reflection was born out of the need to guide my students in the effective use and application of instructor and peer feedback in regards to timed writings. Each year students in my Biotechnology III course maintain a professional portfolio which contains all timed writings both formative and summative. Students were given 5 minutes to review the instructor feedback written on each of their writing samples and using a Post-It note indicate the ONE aspect of their writing process that if they improved it could improve their overall performance.

2. Using a flipchart, with the assistance of a student, we charted and aggregated student responses and then used the four most popular responses in a real-time poll via Edmodo. Students were asked to log-in to their individual Edmodo accounts and vote in the poll that I had been creating as students were sharing their areas most in need of improvement.

3. As students vote in the poll the bars for each possible selection adjust to indicate the number of votes that item received. When voting officially closes students are asked to analyze the real-time data we have collected thus capitalizing on the multiple perspectives of the members of our learning community.

4. One of the most important aspects of this Data Talk is the posing of the following questions which encourage students to justify or defend the perspective for which that individual student DID NOT select, "Do you understand why someone could vote for _________?" Explain why?

CHECKPOINT: Based on the results of this student poll what could be a common misinterpretation of the data?

Sample Student Polls

20 minutes

Polls and surveys provide several advantages in a classroom. They have the ability to shorten the feedback loop by generating real-time data which can enable immediate feedback to students and instructors. Teachers can break up a lesson with a survey or poll and gauge the students’ level of understanding of the information that was just presented. If students indicate a portion of the lesson is unclear, the teacher can go back through it, instead of forging ahead with the lesson while the class remains confused.

Polls and surveys can provide a "brain break" affording them much needed reflection time to assess their learning. Research has shown that students absorb new information in chunks, with 20 minutes being the limit for that information to go from short-term to long-term memory. Polling students near that 20-minute mark gives them a chance to analyze what they’ve learned, making the lesson more effective and lasting.

Student Poll #2 - DNA Size vs. Distance Traveled

This poll was used to surface a misconception that I observed in the student responses made on an Exit Ticket that was completed at the end of the previous class session. It was important for students to recognize the prevalence of the misconception and offer suggestions on how we could address the topic moving forward.

Student Poll #3 - Standard Curve

Student Poll #4 - Genetic Engineering

Student polls #3 and #4 both perform the same function of assessing student prior knowledge in a nonthreatening manner as well as construct an authentic "need to know" based on the results of the poll. The focus of each poll represents topics that are critical to our role as biotechnologists and must be addressed and mastered.

Student Poll #5 - Pace of Innovation

Student Poll #6 - Treatment OR Cure?

Student polls #5 and #6 seek to quantify attitudinal or qualitative data in regards to students views on the pace of innovation in our industry and the use of genetic engineering to treat human disease such as diabetes. The polls highlight the important role public opinion plays in the biotech industry.