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Educational Technology at Columbia College

Tech Tips Tuesdays: Polling in Canvas

by Jesika Brooks on 2024-04-09T12:00:00-04:00 | 0 Comments

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Good afternoon,

Polling can be a useful way to see how things are going in your class, or to redirect teaching if things have gone off-track. For example, a poll can be as simple as, “Which of these options would you prefer us to cover in our next lesson?” or “Are you understanding the material?” Doing this allows for student agency, which is a small step towards students taking charge of their own learning and moving into more intrinsic motivation.

Today, I’d like to share two polling options built into Canvas, ungraded surveys and discussion boards with liking enabled.

For the first option, while Classic Quizzes is still active, there is an option to go to Quizzes, create a new quiz using Classic Quizzes…

Choose a Quiz Engine in Canvas, with Classic Quizzes selected

…and change the Quiz Type drop-down to “Ungraded Survey.”

Quiz Type with Ungraded Survey selected

From there, you’ll build out your survey in the same way you’d build out a regular quiz, creating questions and answers that align with what you’d like to poll students.

Once students have taken the survey—tell them not to worry about grades or grading, as the ungraded nature means it won’t even show up on their grades page—you can view the survey results using the steps from this guide:

You can also make survey submissions anonymous by checking this box on the editing page:

"Keep Submissions Anonymous" option selected under quiz type

Another option for minimal polling in Canvas is to create a discussion post with replies of answers that students can like. So, for example, I create a discussion post with my question and the setting to “Allow liking”…

Allow liking option selected on Canvas quizzes page

…and when students see the replies, they can “like” the one they’ve voted for with the thumbs-up icon.

Thumbs-up icon with 1 like beside it

This mimics the sort of polling that might be done in the classroom, where you declare, “Show of hands if you’d like to cover this topic!”

These polls can be set up before classes start, functioning as check-ins that are built into the flow of your lessons. Likewise, they can also support “Student Choice” weeks, where students choose a particular topic area for that week. Because both surveys and discussions are only visible when published, you could choose when to deploy these polls to students.

There are many other options for polling out there—Google Forms that can be linked or embedded, polls on Zoom meetings, question types on Padlet, or even specifically poll-based tools like Poll Everywhere. If you’d rather use just Canvas, however, you can still offer student choice and get formative feedback even with its built-in features.

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