Category Archives: Teaching technologies

Assessment on the Fly (Sorta)


Assessment is the bane of my existence as an instruction librarian.  No need to be coy about it. Before each semester, I revisit, re-evaluate, and rework all of my assessment tools. Are they giving me the information I need? What are my students getting/not getting? Is the format appropriate? How time-consuming is it for me to review and respond to each student’s quiz, for example? And are they reading my replies? Needless to say, it’s clear that there’s a lot of energy, time, and trial and error involved when it comes to developing and using assessments.

My style of instruction runs on the quick-and-dirty side: A little bit of lecture, a little bit of demonstration, and a little bit of hands-on time. In the past, I’ve asked students (much to their chagrin) to take a quiz after each library visit outside of classroom time via Canvas. We’re talking multiple choice, ten or so questions, and the occasional short answer. Time and again, their scores tell me that they’re either not retaining what they’ve learned and practiced in my class, OR they suck at taking quizzes. And, yeah, they do vocally lament how much time it takes to complete a quiz.

So, my interest was piqued when one of my colleagues at the Marriott Library, Dr. Donna Ziegenfuss, suggested that I try using Poll Everywhere as an alternative to the traditional-format quiz.  Here’s how it works, according to the folks at P.E.:

1. Ask your audience a question with the Poll Everywhere app.
2. Audience answers in real time using mobile phones, Twitter, or web browsers.
3. See your response live on the web or in a PowerPoint presentation.

So, the major selling points here are ease-of use, instant gratification, and an engaging interface for students. This method of instruction is referred to as “adaptive learning” because of the interactive technology component, and students (anecdotally–I haven’t done my research here) seem to respond well to it.

Give it a shot and reply back to me your thoughts/questions/outcomes. Poll Everywhere is taking a minor role in my classrooms this fall.

By: Adriana Parker, University of Utah Marriott Library