Using live polling with Mentimeter to increase student engagement and link theory to everyday experiences

Teaching and learning problem/challenge?

Since my module is an optional introductory one, it tends to attract a large cohort of students from different disciplines. This implies that not everyone has studied Sociology previously, or is familiar with the ‘sociological lens’. Accordingly, and particularly during on-campus teaching, I found it challenging to get students to share their thoughts on the content and how it linked to their own experiences and how these are shaped by their class, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, (dis)abilities, etc.

What was the solution?

I incorporated Mentimeter, a tool for designing interactive presentations, in my lectures. Mentimeter offers a number of options including multiple choice questions, live polling (similar to Turning Point), and a very useful ‘open ended’ option whereby students are able to anonymously write their thoughts and experiences on a certain question. Students could use both their phones and laptops to access Mentimeter’s website, type in the unique code, and submit their responses which automatically appear on the screen.


Screenshot of Mentimeter screen showing: "How can we think of ourselves 'intersectionally'?" and 9 boxes with paragraph-long answers from students

How successful was the solution?

The students’ engagement significantly increased. This was evident in the number of students submitting responses (Mentimeter automatically counts the response rate), and in the quality and richness of discussions that followed. Many students have positively mentioned Mentimeter in the Unit Surveys, and in their ‘informal’ feedback to me after lectures. Importantly, I found Mentimeter to work best when students are asked to reflect and comment on how a particular sociological theory or concept can be linked to their own experiences.

Evaluation / Student Feedback

In response to the question ‘What aspect of Dr Nadim Mirshak’s approach to teaching best helped your learning?’

The interactive side of the lecture, when he used Mentimeter, because it allows everyone to participate and engage in the lecture without having to actually speak in front of the class

His interaction with us, using Mentimeter, and talking to students

Engagement with students and their experiences through using Mentimeter

Nadim allows students to have their say via an interactive class app [Mentimeter] and creates a safe and non-judgemental environment if you wish to speak. I especially liked how Nadim will often apply concepts such as ‘institutional racism’ or ‘inequalities in education’ to personal experiences, this method makes the perspectives and theories more relatable

  • I found Mentimeter to be more responsive compared to Padlet. I found Padlet better for asynchronous interactions, whilst Mentimeter was more effective for face-to-face and live synchronous sessions.
  • Easy format to use by staff and students.
  • Its anonymity encourages students to feel more confident in contributing to discussions.
  • Students get to read each others’ responses and interact live.
  • You could download a PDF copy of the presentation and upload it on Blackboard for future reference.
Top Tips

Make sure you demonstrate to students how they can use Mentimeter at the start of the module. There are a number of good instructional videos available on YouTube. Make sure you have the unique code featured clearly in your lecture slides and read it out as well.

Mentimeter worked best when the question revolved around how students could link a certain topic/sociological concept to their own experiences. Regular ‘commentary’ by the lecturer on the responses being submitted is helpful in reassuring students and encouraging more of them to interact.


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School: Social Sciences

Discipline: Sociology

Academic: Nadim Mirshak

Course: SOCY10401 Inequalities in Contemporary British Society

Cohort Size: 140

Themes: Teaching ideas, Student engagement, Enhancing learning with technology

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