University of Southern California

Learning Design & Technology

Advancing USC's strategic vision for teaching with technology


What are the benefits of polling?

Portable, hand-held response systems, commonly known as clickers, are used to query students as a means for gauging their understanding of concepts and material presented during class. Responses are instantaneously collected and instructors then display the responses to the students to further discussion and increase comprehension.

The key advantages to using clickers are that they give immediate feedback to both students and instructors on how well the entire class understands what is being presented, they can reveal patterns and trends among responses to key questions, and enable students to respond anonymously to topics of a sensitive nature. Displayed responses provide a basis for rich in-class discussion and opportunities for an instructor to address gaps in knowledge or misconceptions.

With respect to student involvement, there is considerable data to suggest that clicker use increases student participation, attention, and engagement with the concepts being covered, leading to a enhanced classroom discussions. Students like being able to make peer comparisons and be able to validate their understanding of the course content. One of the greatest benefits of clickers for faculty is that they offer the opportunity to make their lectures more interactive and participatory.

Polling Resources

What 6 Years of Study Says about Using Clickers in the Classroom

Alternatives to Physical Clickers in the Classroom

Clicker Bibliography from Vanderbilt

Teacher’s Guide to Polling in the Classroom

Beyond Clickers: Increasing student learning through class polling using web-enabled devices

If you would like to discuss methods and tools for using polling online or in the classroom, please send an email to