An engaged student is a motivated student who actively participates in their education. But how to engage students? That’s the perennial question facing instructors in higher education.  

One answer that has been resonating among educators is polling. 

Polling is a form of active learning that encourages engagement with course content and is recognized as a best practice within higher education (Salzer, 2018). Studies show that students who interactively participate in classes learn the material better, retain concepts longer, and can apply them more effectively than students who do not.  

Online polling is also reported to promote enjoyable learning, enhancing intrinsic motivation (Preis et al, 2011). 

For instructor Kevin Kolack of The City University of New York (CUNY), polling students in real-time makes a huge difference in enabling him to dig deeper and know how students are managing their work.  

“I use polling as both an engagement and assessment tool. It’s good for “taking the pulse” of the class and is especially important for remote classes where an assessment has become…complicated…with the availability of tools like AI Chatbots.” 

Gutenberg Technology blogger Erika Randall identifies several positive attributes of polling in the classroom: 

  • Increased participation: the anonymity of polls allows every student to provide an honest answer without fear of public humiliation.  

  • Reduced learner anxiety: polls can help break the ice for anxious students struggling with the material. 

  • Uncovered learning gaps: using polls in your learning content surfaces what areas of your subject matter have been understood, and which ones you may need to revisit.  

  • Feedback: many students report that the feedback they get from polling is a key feature of their own learning. It’s a great way for students to test their knowledge and identify learning gaps on their own. 

Dr. Darlene Martin of Liberty University also acknowledges the benefit of increased student engagement in polling.  

“I have been using polling for increased engagement in my live classes to test students' knowledge and understanding. The questions have class points attached to them, with half of the points awarded just for attempting the question, and half for correctness.” 


Thinking about adding polling to your course? McGraw Hill makes it easy with the new built-in tool in Connect. 

It enables you to see where your students are in real-time, engage with them, and help them connect with course content while gaining valuable insights during your lecture. You can also leverage the data it surfaces to deliver personalized instruction when and where it’s needed most.  

To learn more, please visit