How to take attendance using Poll Everywhere

This method requires a paid Poll Everywhere account. See Plans & Pricing for more details.


Poll Everywhere can work magic in the classroom.

Through interactive activities, this classroom response system gives students and teachers a constant line of communication, creating a more inclusive learning environment.

Many teachers also use Poll Everywhere for a more workaday purpose: attendance. This post shows you how to take attendance using Poll Everywhere. You’ll learn how to register your students, take attendance, and check the results. But before we dive in, a few caveats:

Poll Everywhere is not foolproof. Students are clever, and workarounds exist. I can’t give you an air-tight guarantee that following these steps will ensure complete accuracy. But it is the best method currently available.

This method also requires paid Poll Everywhere features, including registration and reporting. Check with your account administrator for more information, or visit Plans & Pricing. Now, let’s get you set up:

 

Step 1: Register your students with Poll Everywhere


If you do not register your students with Poll Everywhere, you will not see their names after you take attendance (or any other question).

Registering students is easy. Simply log in to your Poll Everywhere account and select Participants at the top. Doing so takes you to a screen showing all the students registered to your account. It looks something like this:

Next, you want to create a group for each of your classes, and invite students to join the appropriate group. To create a new group, select New group on the right under Groups. Name your new group after one of your classes, and click Done. You’ll see your new group appear in the Groups column.

Now it’s time to invite students to your new group. Start by mousing over the group you just created. The word Invite will appear. Click it, then copy the link that is displayed. Share that link with your students.

When your students open this link, they will be instructed to create a Poll Everywhere participant account. The account is free, and they will join your group automatically. You can then edit their information if needed, or move students between different groups.

If you’d rather add students to your account manually, download this spreadsheet, fill it out, and then upload it to your account using the Add participants button. Poll Everywhere will generate a new account for each student listed on the spreadsheet.

 

Step 2: Ask your attendance question


Once all your students are registered and grouped by class, it’s time to create your attendance question. An attendance question is simply a nonsensical, multiple-choice poll with no clear right answer (such as the one below). You will present this question to your students, and then simply state aloud which response is correct. In theory, only the students in class will respond correctly.

Here are some additional tips for making an effective attendance question:

  • Enable registered participants only to ensure only your students can respond.
  • 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.

 

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 question, you can run a report showing exactly how each person answered. Poll Everywhere supports six different reporting types. The one we want is Gradebook.

To create a new Gradebook report, head over to My Polls and select Reports at the top. On the next screen, select Create report followed by Gradebook. Lastly, choose your attendance question and hit Finish.

Your completed report will appear after a few moments. Several names and responses may appear if you’ve used this same attendance question multiple times. Filter out what you don’t need by clicking Participants on the left side, then use the drop-down menu next to Group by to select your different classes. This is also how you show the names of students who are part of a class but did not respond to your question.

Once you’re satisfied, you can download, print, or export this data to Blackboard, Canvas, or Moodle.

Contact Sales to learn more about LMS integrations

 

Bonus tips from our higher-ed account managers


Like I mentioned at the start, this strategy isn’t flawless. In the immortal words of Jeff Goldblum, “Life, uh, finds a way.” That being said, Poll Everywhere’s own higher-ed account managers have some tested suggestions for improving the accuracy of your attendance questions:

Paul G.: Set a timer for you attendance question for added security against sly text messaging. When the timer expires, your question will automatically lock. This prevents further responses, and limits the amount of time students have to text their absent buddies the correct answer.

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.

Got any attendance tips of your own? Let us know in the comments below.

Comments

  • Ken HT

    Attendance and registration in one step, for 25 participants:
    1. Create a poll that contains an image of a 5×5 grid. Each of the 25 grid cells contains a single clickable region.
    2. Within the grid image, label each grid cell with the short name or initials of a participant. (If you need to take attendance multiple times – such as on multiple class days – then create the grid image in software like Excel, so you can easily alter the name-to-cell assignments each day).
    3. Limit the responses to one per participant. The instruction is “Click on your name”.
    4. Open the poll question. Each person clicks once on their own grid cell. What this does: #1, it registers each person’s attendance; #2, it prevents double-registration; #3; it generates a unique association of a name with an electronic device, so you can ascribe all other responses from that device to the correct name. The only shortfall is that is does not prevent aliasing … if you need to worry about that.

    • Rebecca Kerr

      That is brilliant.

      • Maxwell McGee

        Seconded. This is an extremely creative solution, Ken. Thanks for sharing!