TurningPoint – Encouraging Active Engagement in Lectures

Lecture Theatre

Image by: Teddy Rised, https://www.flickr.com/photos/teddy-rised/2814710002/in/photolist-5hJ8dN-6114aX

The traditional lecture is often criticised for being a passive learning experience for students. Evidence suggests that only a fraction of information presented is retained by students (McLaughlin and Mandin, 2001).

Student response systems can facilitate student engagement with each other, the subject content and the lecturer. They enable students to interact in large lectures by answering questions, leading to an improved understanding of the content. Student response systems also provide students with a voice empowering them to share their opinions and contribute to the session – ideal for those quieter students who are not often heard in large teaching spaces. A recent study by Voelkel and Bennett (2013) indicated that student response systems had a positive impact on student learning and experience.

Quick polling is an interactive way to engage students in classes by asking them to respond to quick questions and provide immediate feedback (Calma et al, 2014).

HYMS alongside the University of York are currently piloting a student polling/response system called TurningPoint. It allows you to create polls that students can interact with using apps/web browsers, with up to 300 simultaneous users. TurningPoint also has a built in messaging feature, which we hope will be a user friendly way of students being able to ask questions in the Phase 1 plenaries.

You can create various question types from Multiple Choice to Numeric responses directly in a PowerPoint presentation. You also have the option to display the results in real-time or when it suits. Please note that if you display the results in real-time it may encourage students who don’t know the answer to just select the most popular! Lecturers can use TurningPoint to:

  • Reinforce concepts and ideas
  • Provides real-time evaluation of student comprehension
  • Recall previously covered materials (flipped classroom/learning)
  • Allow students to monitor their own progress
  • Facilitate improved communication between students, their peers and the lecturer.

If you are interest in participating in the pilot, then please contact the HYMS Learning Enhancement and Support Team at: eLearning@hyms.ac.uk.


Calma, A., Webster, B. J., Petry, S., & Pesina, J. (2014). Improving the quality of student experience in large lectures using quick polls. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 54 (1), 114-136.

McLaughlin K., Mandin H. (2001). A schematic approach to diagnosing and resolving lecturalgia. Medical Education, 35, 1135-1142.

Voelkel, S., Bennett, D. (2014) New uses for a familiar technology: introducing mobile phone polling in large classes. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 51 (1) 46-58.

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