Using Polls in the GSB Classroom

What are polls?

Polls are closed- or open-ended questions that invite participation from your students in real time. Polling tools provide instructors a way to increase student engagement through either trackable or anonymous responses to questions in class. Stanford University has a license to the online platform Poll Everywhere that allows you to create a variety of question types, including multiple choice, short answer with ranking capabilities, word clouds, and clickable images.

Why use polls?

Polls are a great way to add interactivity and allow more students to participate during your class session. You can set up polls in advance to build rapport, infuse some energy or competition, or uncover areas where students may need more clarification. Here’s a deeper look at how you might use polls:

Build community

You can build classroom community through polls with ice breakers or other open-ended questions that allow your students to share something about themselves.

Elicit deeper conversations

You can create polls that serve as a springboard for in-class discussions. Since polling allows all of your students to respond to a question at one time, it’s a powerful way to hear more voices in your class, potentially surfacing diverse viewpoints. From there, you can encourage deeper discussions or debate by asking students to explain or defend their responses.

Check for understanding

By implementing polls at strategic points during your lecture, you can check for understanding, uncover misconceptions, and address common pitfalls. Based on responses, you might decide to adjust the focus of your teaching during class to ensure students master core concepts. Below is an example highlighting the effective use of polls in GSB courses:

Headshot of Rebecca Lester
Rebecca Lester

While teaching her accounting class online in 2020, Associate Professor of Accounting Rebecca Lester used Poll Everywhere to ensure her students remained engaged and to build a sense of class community. She used the tool to pose icebreaker questions on an interactive map that allowed students to indicate where they were originally from (community building), hook students’ attention on key topics (pre-lecture questions), and promote student participation with leaderboards. Rebecca used Poll Everywhere to track participation and more easily recognize where students were falling behind. Although she used polls while teaching online, her tips and strategies can be easily implemented in in-person classes.

View this video to hear Rebecca share how she used Poll Everywhere in her course.

Glenn Kramon
Glenn Kramon

Glenn used polls and Zoom chat in his online and hybrid practical-writing classes. He posed light ice-breaker questions to build community, yes/no questions to gauge perceptions on writing rhetoric, and open-ended questions to encourage students to grapple with language, context, and meaning. In planning his move back to a fully in-person class, his challenge was to duplicate this engaging experience without using Zoom. By implementing polling and combining polling with Slack, Glenn can now offer these same activities in the in-person course. Students can access Slack via their devices in class to participate and engage with polling questions and each other. As an added benefit, Slack maintains a record of the conversations and poll results that both students and instructors can access later.

How can I get started with using polls in my class?

We recommend PollEverywhere because it is easy to use and share with others through your Stanford account. Here are some things to think about as you get started.

Setting up your account

You already have a Poll Everywhere account under Stanford’s license. Simply log in at using your SUNet to access your account.

Collaboration features allow your FA or CA to help you set up polls. Reach out to Stanford’s Center for Teaching and Learning at to have them set up a group for you and your teaching team.

For information about how to create and manage polls see Stanford Center for Teaching and Learning’s page on live polling.

Who can I talk to about ideas for polling activities in my class?

For help or questions about various polling activities and how it can support learning in your class, the TLHub team is ready to offer consultations. Submit a request here.