How to take attendance using Poll Everywhere

High school student at desk

Poll Everywhere works magic in the classroom. Through interactive activities, this classroom response system gives students and teachers a constant line of communication – creating an inclusive learning environment.

This post details how to take attendance using Poll Everywhere. I explain how to register your students, take attendance, and check the results. But, before we start, a quick caveat.

Poll Everywhere is not foolproof. Students are clever, and workarounds exist. Following these steps will not result in 100% attendance accuracy 100% of the time. Know that the team is aware of these limitations, and that this is the best method for attendance currently available.

I also describe two slightly different workflows depending on the type of account you have with Poll Everywhere. The names of these workflows are taken from the Plans & Pricing page.

  • Institution-wide: In this workflow, I assume Poll Everywhere is connected to your LMS.
  • Student Pays or Instructor: In this workflow, I assume Poll Everywhere is not connected to an LMS.

If you do not have either an Institution-wide, Instructor, or Student Pays account, then you do not have access to the features necessary to take attendance using Poll Everywhere. Contact Sales to learn more about these features.

Contact Sales

Step 1: Register students with Poll Everywhere

If you do not register your students with Poll Everywhere, you will not see their names after you take attendance.

Institution-wide

Import student rosters from your connected LMS into a Poll Everywhere participant group. This instantly creates a participant account for every student, and eliminates the need for spreadsheet uploads and student self-registration. Students are automatically organized into participant groups based on the course names from the LMS.

For more information on importing student rosters into Poll Everywhere, please read the LMS integration section of the Poll Everywhere Instructor guide.

Student Pays or Instructor

Send students a personal invitation link. When students open this link, they will be prompted to certify their email, phone number, and to create a password. I recommend you specifically tell students to use their university email. Grading discrepancies will occur if students use different emails throughout the course.

I also recommend organizing students into participant groups based on course, such as ECON 101. You can do this either when you send out the invitation link, or manually after students are registered.

For more information on distributing personal invitation links to students, please read the Distribute a link section of the Poll Everywhere Instructor guide.

Poll Everywhere participants screen

Step 2: Create and present your attendance activity

Once all students are registered and organized in your Poll Everywhere account, it’s time to create your attendance activity. This is done the same way regardless of whether you’re on an Institution-wide or Instructor plan.

An attendance activity is simply a nonsensical question with no clear right answer (such as the example below). You want a nonsensical question so that it’s harder for students who aren’t in attendance to guess the correct response. I recommend that you use a multiple choice activity so that the correct answer can be easily displayed in a gradebook report (discussed in the next step).

Be sure to enable Registered participants only when you create your attendance activity. Otherwise, your students may not be identified properly.

Present your attendance activity to your students and state aloud which response is correct. In theory, only the students in class will respond correctly. In practice, like I mention at the start, it’s not foolproof. Here are some additional tips for making this activity more effective:

  • Set one response as correct by clicking the checkmark icon on the poll editing screen.
  • Include lots of responses to decrease the likelihood of someone guessing the right answer.
  • Set a timer of 30 – 45 seconds. When that timer runs out, the activity automatically locks.

If you are on an Institution-wide plan, you can also take advantage of the Do not show activity title on participant devices setting. Enabling this setting will hide the title of that Poll Everywhere activity on students’ devices. That means only students who can see your presentation screen (i.e. those in class) will see the title of that activity.

Example attendance poll

Step 3: Review attendance scores

This is where all that registration and grouping back in step one pays off. After your students respond to your attendance activity, you can review those results to see exactly how each person answered. There are two ways to do this, depending on the type of Poll Everywhere account you have.

Institution-wide

Transfer a Gradebook report from Poll Everywhere to your LMS, complete with overall participation scores and graded multiple choice activities. The Gradebook is a compact table with participants listed down the left and questions across the columns.

For more information on exporting grades to your LMS, please read the LMS integration section of the Poll Everywhere Instructor guide.

Student Pays or Instructor

Create a new Gradebook report. The Gradebook is a compact table with participants listed down the left and questions across the columns. It shows scores, participation, and attendance. You can export the report to a CSV or Excel file to add attendance data to your preferred record.

For more information on creating Gradebook reports, please read the Gradebook and other reports section of the Poll Everywhere Instructor guide.

Example Gradebook report

Tips from the higher-ed account managers

Like I mentioned at the start, this strategy isn’t faultless. That said, Poll Everywhere’s own higher-ed account managers have some tested suggestions for improving the accuracy of your attendance activities:

Katie W.: Mix up when you present your attendance question. It’s easy for students to pop in at the start of class, respond to your question, and then leave. Checking for attendance closer to the middle of class is a simple way to ensure genuine results.

Paul G.: Several names and responses may appear in a Gradebook if you’ve the same attendance activity multiple times. Filter out what you don’t need by clicking Participants on the left side and using the drop-down menu next to group. This also shows you who did not respond.

Need more classroom inspiration? Check out the stories below for more ideas on how to make the most of Poll Everywhere in your next class or lecture.