Get Your Students to Text During Class – No, Seriously!

Ah, the common problems of cell phones in class.  We seem to have all become somewhat addicted to our phones.  A recent study actually found that female college students, in particular, spend about 10 hours A DAY on their phones.  Male college students were found to spend 8 hours a day.

“The students reported spending the most time texting, with an average of 94.6 minutes a day. That was followed by sending emails (48.5 minutes), checking Facebook (38.6 minutes), surfing the Internet (34.4 minutes), and listening to music (26.9 minutes).” – psychcentral.com

We, as professors, are up against a growing addiction of our students to be connected every minute of every day.  This study also found 60% of college students openly admit being addicted to their phones.

So why fight the trend?  Let’s use it to our advantage.  I’ve used this in varying levels of classes in several formats and found it works.  There are several tools out there, the one I prefer is Poll Everywhere.  It is free and easy to set up.  Here are two ways I’ve used it in the classroom.

Test How Well Your Students Are Grasping the Material

We all know that dreaded moment when we either get assignments back from students or grade exams and realize the students simply aren’t getting it.  Using an anonymous tool like Poll Everywhere, students can freely admit when they do not understand a concept or are having trouble keeping up with the class.  I’ve used this tool to be content specific and asking about specific concepts.  However, I’ve also used this tool generally.  For example:

Question: I would like us as a class to… A. Go over upcoming assignments B. Review the concepts in Chapter 3 C. Go over the last exam D. Talk about grading expectations for papers

This allows me to gauge where the students feel they need help as well as how well (or not well) I am communicating to the class.

Put Pressure On Students To Perform Well

In my entrepreneurship class, the students have to give pitches to the class for their business ideas.  I developed a series of questions on Poll Everywhere that asks the class for their opinion on the pitch.  The questions I developed are:

Did you clearly understand the problem or opportunity?

Did you understand how the product/service solved the problem or met an opportunity?

Did you understanding the target market, niche and the market size?

Would you invest?

Describe the pitch in one word.

As the students provide answers on their phone, they get populated on the screen in real time.  The students like to provide their honest feedback to their peers, but it also puts pressure on the students to perform their pitches well.  We then have a discussion around ways to improve the pitch based on the feedback.

I’d love to hear about any ways you might have used this tool and how it works. Please feel free to share in the comment section below.

Categories: Teaching, Technology

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