Adding Breakout Rooms, Non-Verbal Feedback and Polling

Extensive research demonstrates that including interactivity and using active learning strategies in your online teaching increases student engagement and satisfaction and results in better learning outcomes. Breakout rooms in Zoom offer the opportunity to recreate small discussion groups similar to what we may do in traditional classrooms. Similarly, enabling non-verbal feedback and polling in Zoom allows instructors to check in with students and allows them to respond to questions and prompts or notify the instructor when they have questions. 

Adding Interactivity to Live Zoom Sessions 

Step 1: Enable these features 

  1. Navigate to and sign in to your Bowdoin Zoom account. 

  1. Click on “Settings” in the left-hand navigation menu. 

  1. Scroll down to the section called “In Meeting (Basic).” Enable the polling and non-verbal feedback options in this section by toggling the selectors to the right. They will turn blue indicating the features are enabled. 

  1. Continue to scroll to the next section entitled “In Meeting (Advanced).” Enable breakout rooms by toggling its selector to the right. It will turn blue indicating the feature is enabled. 

  1. If you would like to be able to assign participants to breakout rooms when you schedule the meeting, be sure to check that option. Otherwise, you will still be able to assign participants to groups manually or automatically within the meeting. 

Step 2: Using Non-Verbal Feedback 

  1. Within a Zoom meeting that you are hosting, click on “Participants” on the bottom toolbar. 

  1. This will open a side panel where you can see options for participants to respond non-verbally, including responding to yes/no questions, asking the instructor to slow down or speed up, and giving thumbs up and thumbs down reactions. 

Step 3: Creating Polls within a Zoom Session 

  1. Within a Zoom meeting you are hosting, click on “Polls” on the bottom toolbar. 

  1. A window will open where you can create either single-choice or multiple-choice polling questions, name the poll, and enter possible responses to the poll. You also have the option of making responses anonymous. 

  1. Click “Add a question” if you would like to include multiple questions in the same poll. 

  1. Select “Launch Poll.” 

  1. Participants will be able to respond immediately, and you will see results as participants respond. 

Step 4: Creating Polls in Advance 

  1. Navigate to and go to the “Meetings” page. 

  1. Click on the scheduled meeting to which you would like to add a poll. 

  1. From the meeting management page, scroll to the bottom to find the “Poll” option and click “Add.” 

  1. Enter a title for the poll and create questions just as you would when creating a poll within a meeting. 

  1. To begin the poll within the Zoom meeting to which you added the poll, click “Polls” in the bottom toolbar. 

  1. Select the poll you would like to launch and click “Launch Poll.” 

Step 5: Creating Breakout Rooms 

  1. Within a Zoom meeting you are hosting, click on “Breakout Rooms” on the bottom toolbar. 

  1. A pop-up will appear asking how many rooms you would like to create and whether participants should be assigned automatically or manually. You can also assign participants to rooms before a scheduled meeting. Instructions for that process can be found in the Zoom help center

  1. Automatically: Zoom will split participants up evenly between rooms. 

  1. Manually: You choose which participants you would like in each room. 

  1. Click “Create rooms.” 

  1. There are many options for managing breakout rooms. Instructions for these many possibilities can be found in the Zoom help center

Best Practices 

  • Take advantage of breakout rooms to implement think-pair-share, small group discussions, or other active learning techniques. Visit breakout rooms to check in on groups as you would in a traditional on-ground class. 

  • Use non-verbal feedback to gauge student engagement and understanding. We may lack the visual cues we get in traditional classrooms, such as confused looks on student faces. Asking questions like, “Is this idea clear?” and having students simply click “yes” or “no” can give you a quick check of student understanding that we are used to in traditional classrooms. 

  • There is no “back of the classroom” in online classrooms. So using tools such as polls and non-verbal feedback can be effective in drawing in lower participation students and increasing their engagement.  

  • Encourage student participation by using Zoom’s polling feature. Polls can be used for fun icebreakers, as discussion or critical thinking prompts, and much more. Research shows that creating interactivity in online classrooms increases student satisfaction and engagement. 


Article ID: 116285
Wed 9/16/20 12:29 PM