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Engaging students

Use live polling to engage students

Zoom allows instructors to poll students during class. You can create a poll before or during the class meeting. You can use polls to get a sense of students’ general comprehension of material, to adjust a lesson plan or to see if students are still paying attention. To use this feature, you must enable polling in Zoom.

Facilitate small-group discussions and problem solving within class

Zoom allows students to be split into small groups in breakout rooms. You must enable breakout rooms to use this feature. You may either assign students to groups before the class meeting or have Zoom divide students into a set number of rooms. If you use Zoom to randomly divide students, you have the option of making individual changes before sending participants to the breakout rooms.

As host, you can move between the breakout rooms to check in on students’ discussions and answer questions. Students can also ask you to come answer a question or talk to them with the Ask for Help button.

Breakout rooms can be set to close automatically after a set period of time. Whether or not you use this feature, you may end the breakout rooms at any point, returning students to the main Zoom meeting. The groups created for breakout rooms can also be used for students to interact and work together outside of class meetings.

Facilitate small-group interactions and group work outside of class

As described above, you can use the breakout room groups as a foundation for small-group work outside of class time. Alternatively, you can have students self-organize and choose their own groups. This can allow students to sort themselves by topic, assignment choice or simply to choose their own collaborators. They can sign up for a group in a shared Google spreadsheet or Canvas Groups.

You can set Canvas Groups to automatically sort students into groups or allow self-registration. Canvas Groups has the advantage of offering tools to enable group work, such as group assignment submissions, discussions, collaborative documents and shared calendars.

If you have students use a Google spreadsheet for sorting themselves into groups, make sure your students are able to edit it. This method may be too unwieldy for very large classes.

Identify engagement goals and useful technologies

The Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation offers a guide to identify and achieve learning goals, including increased student engagement.


Remote lecturing and video conferencing tool, integrated with UCI Canvas