Best practices: Polling to promote student voice

Promoting student voice in the online environment increases engagement builds community and encourages ownership of the learning experience. Data-driven decisions based on feedback received allows for continuous improvement of course content and facilitation techniques. Moodle™ offers multiple ways to poll your students. In today’s blog I want to share with you a few different types of polling agents and explain when and why to use each one.


The Choice activity provides a polling mechanism to ignite interaction. A choice activity is the simplest way to gather student responses in Moodle™. The teacher asks a question and specifies multiple response options. Choices can be designated to post anonymously or with a student avatar by the selection. Polls are a good way to let participants get to know a little more about the other members of a course. Students are able to see a graphic representation of the poll. Moodle™’s Choice activity provides a way to ask students questions and get a quick answer. Consider using Choice for:

  • Project/group sign up: By using the limit feature in Choice (only allowing for a certain number of students to choose one option) you can allow students to sign up for a certain project or group while ensuring that one option isn’t chosen more than others.
  • Status of the class: Choice can be useful as a quick poll to stimulate thinking about a topic allow the class to vote on a direction for the course or gather research consent.


The Survey activity allows you to assess student learning styles from the onset of the course. There are several types of surveys available from Moodle™ which have been found useful in assessing and stimulating learning in online environments. You can use these surveys to gather data from your students to help you learn about your class and reflect on your own teaching. Don't be misled by the name! The questions in these surveys are preformatted and cannot be changed. If you want to build a customized survey then use the Feedback activity option. Consider using Survey for:

  • Assessing student learning styles: Use the ATTLS survey at the beginning of your online course to determine how your students learn.
  • Assessing the quality of the online environment: Utilize the COLLES survey to assess the learning environment you’ve provided for your students in the course.


The Feedback activity allows you to custom build surveys for your Moodle™/Joule courses by writing your own . Unlike the Moodle™ Survey tool it allows you to write your own questions rather than choose from a list of prewritten ones. Getting input from your students will allow you to make instructional design decisions and continually improve and upgrade your course instruction. The Feedback activity provides analysis of your results which can easily be exported and saved for later reference. You can also create templates to easily recreate sets of questions throughout the course. Consider using Feedback for:

  • Course evaluations: Create open-ended questions about both course content and course facilitation to get feedback from students on where improvement can happen.
  • Data-driven instruction: Use the enhanced question analysis provided by feedback to improve course content and instruction.


The Questionnaire activity module allows instructors to include a survey-like activity into a course using a wide range of question types to collect feedback. This tool can be used to gather data. You can create custom-questions including Check boxes Date box Drop-down box Essay box Label Numeric Radio buttons Rate (on a scale 1-5) Text box and Yes/no. Consider using Questionnaire for:

  • Showing students you value their response: Busy students don’t want to do “busy work” with no reward. Show students their input is important – and give them a submission grade for completing the questions.
  • Guest polling: Use this activity on the front page of your site or course with modified permissions to allow parents or other stakeholders to vote on important issues.

For more information on these activities and more enroll in our Advanced Course Building online course today!


-Laura Lea



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