A Study on Students' Use of Real-time Voting Results of Digital Classroom Polling in Formative Assessment

Andrew Kwok-Fai Lui and Sin-Chun Ng
The Open University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR, China

Integrating digital classroom polling into instruction, especially for classes with a large enrolment, has become increasingly popular. With mobile phones, which are the latest incarnation of a voting device, students’ responses are aggregated and a summary of voting results is displayed for everyone to see. When digital classroom polling is employed to support formative assessment, a tangible benefit is the feedback-intervention effect (Chien et al., 2016). Students are made aware of misconceptions through observing the voting results, as well as receiving explanations from instructors. This answer-feedback-adjustment loop can be completed quickly, helping students to maintain focus on the learning tasks. This technology-driven process, coupled with suitably designed questions, has been found to promote student engagement and active learning. The display of voting results can engage students in at least two ways. The popularity of different choices would normally be used for review after making a response, but the same could be used instead as a hint before making a response. The latter case might weaken the instructional effect of a question — some students would be more interested in getting the correct answers than thinking about the course content. The timing of revealing the voting results is therefore an important consideration in the use of digital classroom polling.

This paper describes a study on how students perceive the role of the voting results in their attempts at in-class formative assessment. The study was designed to investigate several ways of using the voting results and participating in formative assessment. To allow students sufficient flexibility in choosing their participation mode, the formative assessment lasted for the whole class session in parallel with classroom instruction. A specially designed digital classroom polling system, called LikeClass, was developed to support this study. The system could display voting results side-by-side with presentation slides, allowing students to view both at the same time. The students could also view the voting results and submit responses through a mobile application. Hard copies containing formative assessment questions were also available for students who preferred the conventional mode. The research was set in the context of an introductory programming course with over 100 students. In each session, five to eight multiple-choice questions, mostly set at the applying level, were provided. After 13 weeks of instruction, an instrument containing 32 items was administered to the class to survey their usage patterns for the formative assessment and perceptions of the role of the voting results. It was discovered that there were significant differences in the perceptions of the learning effectiveness between those who used the voting results before and after making a response. These findings should be useful not just for instructors but also designers of digital classroom polling systems.