Getting feedback from students during a live lecture can be difficult, especially in sessions with larger class sizes. How do you elicit representative feedback, check student understanding, and also allow for shy or uncertain students to have a voice? Live feedback tools create a community backchannel for students. A lecturer can monitor such backchannels and use them to adapt their teaching on the fly, even in a class of a hundred (or a thousand) students.


There is a risk that as the class size increases other key components of effective classroom teaching and learning decrease, such as:

  • active engagement
  • active learning
  • establishing and responding to student prior knowledge
  • monitoring student understanding

Student-to-teacher feedback, used well, can ameliorate these issues.


Online tools such as GoSoapBox allow students to use their own devices (laptops or smartphones) to provide feedback. This can include:

  • a running roster of questions that students would like the lecturer to address or points they would like the lecturer to clarify,
  • a “confusion meter” to signal when the lecturer should spend more time on something,
  • quick lecturer polls to monitor student understanding,
  • polls to determine which topics students are most interested in pursuing in the lecture.

This is used in some of the largest lectures in the faculty, for example, first-year course EDUC 119 – Development, Learning and Teaching. Students were given a link to a GoSoapBox page where they can ask questions, read other students’ questions, and then vote on which ones they most want addressed. At certain points in the lecture, the lecturer would stop and respond to the most popular questions.

Where to next?

Feedback closes the loop between the preparation of a course and its ongoing development and improvement. Traditional course evaluations are slow to respond to the needs of the students; often changes are only implemented in future offerings of the course. Live student-to-teacher feedback tightens this loop, allowing the lecturer to improve their course immediately.

Tools and Tips

Padlet, Poll Everywhere, and GoSoapBox are easy to set up and use in class to monitor student understanding of ideas, as well as to have them collaborate and discuss concepts online.


Carroll, J., Rodgers, J., Sankupellay, M., Newcomb, M., & Cook, R. (2014). Systematic evaluation of GoSoapBox in tertiary education: A student response system for improving learning experiences and outcomes. In INTED2014 Proceedings, IATED, Valencia, Spain. Retrieved from

Sika-Paotonu, D., Robinson, B., & Maling, T. (2017). Engaging postgraduate students undertaking clinical pharmacology using GoSoapBox for problem-based learning. Journal of Nursing Education, 56(9), 575–576.

Sundararajan, N., & Maquivar, M. G. (2017). How to increase student participation and engagement using Padlet: A case study of collaborative discussion in an animal sciences course. Journal of Animal Science, 95, 356–356.

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