Quick Strategies to Digitally Pulse Check Your Students

This is the fourth post of the Carefully Curated Series for the Spring 2024 semester.

Planning an online asynchronous course is no easy task– it requires thoughtful preparation, a generous chunk of time, and the bandwidth to learn new digital tools. But the course planning doesn’t end when the semester begins. As students progress through the course, you get valuable insights from your learners on what works and what doesn’t– information about what to refine for next time.

So how can you know what is going well for your students and what isn’t? How can you “read the room” when you aren’t in a room with your students to begin with? Take inspiration from these five ways to quickly (and virtually) “pulse check” your students. Don’t be concerned about implementing all of these at once–these are merely just a few more tools for your digital teaching toolbox. 

At the beginning of the semester…

  • Check in on what your students think at the beginning of the course with a Learner Info Survey. These short surveys are designed for you to get to know your students and see if there will be barriers to learning. Questions can range from short and informational (is it okay if I provide video feedback?) to open-ended and course-specific (this course is completely online—is there anything going on that may interfere with your success?).

At the beginning of a lecture (or weekly module)…

  • Try gauging where students are at with an entry ticket. Entry tickets are a short series of questions that help learners “warm up” while also providing instructors with an idea of where students are at and the opportunity to adapt accordingly. You can set this up virtually with Canvas Quizzes or Google Forms.

At the end of a lecture (or weekly module)…

  • Ask students how things are going with an exit ticket. Exit tickets are a short series of questions to see if students “caught what you taught,” capture lingering questions, and provide a space for students to share how the course/lesson is going. You can set this up virtually with Canvas Quizzes or Google Forms.

Using PlayPosit? Check in on students anytime…

  • If you use PlayPosit, then you already know it’s a convenient way to make sure that students are watching your videos and engaging with content. But did you know that you can get course summaries with PlayPosit analytics? Think about this as a virtual way to “read the room” and see which questions your students are struggling with at a glance. The best part–- if you already have a PlayPosit set up, this in-depth pulse check is just a few clicks away! 

After an exam… 

  • Check-in on how students have been studying with an exam wrapper. Exam wrappers are brief surveys that ask students about how they prepared for the exam, where they lost points, and how they might change their study strategy moving forward. This is a great way to get a peek into how students are studying and why they might be struggling in certain areas. They are also a great tool for giving students a few optional points back after a relatively rough exam and framing academic success as a skill that can be improved upon rather than an innate characteristic of the individual. Make sure to follow up with campus learning resources, course-specific study advice, and encouragement for next time. These can be done digitally with Canvas Quizzes or Google Forms.

Are you teaching an online or blended course and curious about more ways to easily check in on your students but don’t have the time to learn a new digital tool? Consider joining TLi for a 5-Day Workout: Alternative Uses of Quizzes April 8-April 12 for an online asynchronous microcourse designed to take 20 minutes a day for five days. In this “workout” you will explore some of the ways you can use a familiar tool, Canvas Quizzes, in new ways beyond the traditional use of pure assessment. Come and learn about low-pressure ways to identify where students struggle, easy strategies for connecting with students, and more! Participants will receive a “Quiz Kit” with templates of the quizzes we learn about for easy reuse (that’s right– we already did the prep for you!). Register now for an asynchronous bite-sized learning experience to re-energize your teaching practice after spring break.

One thought on “Quick Strategies to Digitally Pulse Check Your Students

  1. Thank you for these terrific tips, Georgia! I downloaded the sample exam wrapper already and am planning to use it in the next module. Great ways to increase check ins without significantly impacting either student or faculty workload.

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