Instructional Design and eTeaching Services - Boston College

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Use questions sparingly

Instructors report asking on average no more than 5, and frequently just 2 to 3, questions during a 50-minute class. Overuse can lead to student disengagement.

Keep the wording of questions simple

Questions should be easy to read. The reasoning the questions require can be quite complex, but the wording should be simple.

Leave enough time for responses

Give students enough time to consider a question before closing the polling time period. You can configure in advance, or change on the fly, the amount of time students have to respond.

Consider ways to integrate questions with classroom discussion

You might ask a question and have students discuss their answers with each other before polling them. Or you might ask a question, poll the class, and, after displaying the results, have students with differing opinions debate with one another. Then you can repoll the class.

Use your answer options to increase understanding

Include in your answers what you feel might be common misunderstandings. Identifying misconceptions is one of the greatest values of using i>clickers.

Test higher-level understanding rather than mere factual recall

The more thought-provoking the question, the greater the value i>clickers can have in stimulating discussion and assessing understanding. You might ask students to apply a concept just presented to a new situation. Or you could have students relate a new concept to a previously taught concept. You might test students’ interpretations of a case study or the results of a laboratory experiment.

Take excused absences and other exceptions into account

i>grader does not allow for the editing of scores, but it can export them into a file you can open and edit in Excel. Plan in advance for ways you might want to adjust calculations or provide alternatives if students are ever away, forget i>clickers, etc.

Additional suggestions

  • Ask a question at the beginning of class about an important topic presented in the previous class. Such a question tests recall and gets students to settle down quickly.
  • Assess background knowledge before beginning a topic. Find out what students already know and what misconceptions they might have. You might also want to test their intuition before a demonstration or experiment.
  • Ask students how well they feel they understand a topic you just presented.
  • Consider using questions at the beginning of the course to build a sense of community. You might ask students about their reasons for taking the class, their likely major, or any concerns they might have about taking the course.

i>clicker Challenges

Using i>clicker questions may cause you to cover less material during class time. Keep this in mind in your course planning. You may choose to compensate for decreased coverage of material through independent assignments given prior to or following the class.

Asking thought-provoking questions may encourage you to alter the flow of your course. Be open to this possibility. However, if you find it difficult to change your course presentation on the fly, you could use the feedback to modify future presentations.