Dr Lydia Plath uses interactive polling software, Mentimeter, to increase interactivity and get instantaneous feedback in lectures and seminars. For example, to encourage student participation during a lecture on US civil rights movements, Dr Plath asked students to submit slogans and Twitter hashtags for the different civil rights campaigns using Mentimeter, which meant they were able to appear on the screen instantaneously. Most often, Dr Plath utilises Mentimeter’s Q&A function to get students to vote on which of the seminar’s pre-set questions they want to discuss most. As part of a session on police brutality for her second-year module ‘America in Black and White’, Dr Plath asked students to use Mentimeter to submit names of victims of police brutality from any period in US history. This not only provided an opportunity to acknowledge the victims and say their names, but also helped to structure the conversation.
Dr Plath uses Mentimeter to encourage student participation in lectures and seminars in a way that is not as intimidating for students as having to put their hand up. Because Mentimeter is anonymous students felt more able to ask questions and Dr Plath was able to collect views from all students quickly rather than from a select few.
- The first step was to set up an account. Mentimeter is intuitive and easy-to-use so Dr Plath explored its functions and chose which ones suited her lectures and seminars best.
- The polls were set up in advance and the students were given a code to access the poll, which has instructions on how to use Mentimeter.
- Students submitted their questions and feedback lectures and seminars using their phones and laptops. The results of the Mentimeter appear instantaneously on the screen.
The fact that students engaged with it implies that it worked quite well.
Some questions got a bit silly and that’s something to be aware of when you’ve got these big lecture halls and it’s anonymous…I haven’t ever had it get offensive but that is a potential danger if you don’t have a vetting process, [however] you can get it to filter out profanities.