Using Top Hat for Polling Students in Zoom

Facilitating the polling of students within a Zoom synchronous session

Instructional Challenge

During instruction, it is important to find ways of soliciting feedback and measuring students' understanding of content. Polling is a good way of both measuring understanding and engaging students in the process of learning. This document walks instructors through the process of setting up and using Top Hat to poll students while in a Zoom session. |

Setting Up Top Hat Course Spaces

Top Hat is a Student Response System (SRS) that allows you to ask questions, take polls, give quizzes, and receive feedback from your students during class. Top Hat is a bring-your-own-device solution, which means that students can use any web-enabled device (laptop, tablets, smartphones) to participate. It also allows for text messaging to submit answers, so students can use older or flip cell phones as well. For the Fall 2020 semester, the SRS features of Top Hat are available to campus students at no cost. Be aware, however, that this access does not extend or include integrations of results into the Canvas grade book. Results of the Top Hat discussions are for the use of classroom facilitation of discussions alone and not for the formal allocation of points.

  1. From a web browser, go to
  2. Select the Sign-up link on the upper right side of the screen.
  3. Select Professor.
  4. Select the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  5. Select the Next button.
  6. Authenticate with UW-Madison NetID login credentials
    1. If you have not created a Top Hat account before, you will be prompted to do so. Note: the password you enter only used on the Top Hat mobile app. You will continue to use your NetID credentials to log into Top Hat on your computer. When all fields are entered, select "I agree with the terms and conditions" and select Next.
  7. If you have not created a Top Hat space, select Create Course
    1. Enter the course name, course start date, subject, and course code.
    2. Select Create.

Creating a Top Hat Question

  1. Under the Courses menu, you will see your Top Hat courses. Select the  Enter link to the right of the course name.
  2. Select the Create button to create a new question. The following are the available question types (for a full description visit the Top Hat Support Site): multiple-choice, word answers, numeric answers, fill in the blank, matching, click on target, sorting, or long answer.
    1. Select Question and then select the appropriate question type from the Top Hat Questions section.
    2. Fill in the question details. For directions on the specific question type, go to the Top Hat Support Site.
    3. Select Save.

Setting Up Students in Top Hat

Before using Top Hat, it is recommended that students be guided through the registration and account setup before your first use in the classroom. Create a Canvas activity that walks students through the following steps before coming to class.
  1. Go to
  2. Select the Sign-Up link on the upper right side of the screen.
  3. Select Student.
  4. Enter the six-digit Top Hat course code. (Instructor Note: You can find their course code in Top Hat below their course name (ex. Join Code: 123456).
  5. Log in with your UW-Madison login credentials.
  6. If you are going to be using your mobile phones, download the Top Hat application and follow the login process. When searching for institutions, type in Madison, and University of Wisconsin - Madison will be listed.

Starting the Polling Session

  1. Before the session starts in Zoom, log in to your Top Hataccount on your laptop and enter your course space.
  2. Once you are in Zoom and ready to poll students, type in the URL for Top Hat ( in the Chat tab. When students select the link, it will open a new browser tab where they will authenticate and enter your Top Hat course. If using their mobile phone, have them enter the course code and log into the system with their UW-Madison login credentials.
  3. In Top Hat, select the discussion question(s) you want to present by selecting the square to the left of the questions.
  4. When ready to display the question to students, select the arrow icon to the right of the Present button at the top right corner of the screen. Make sure Enable full screen presenting is not enabled.
  5. Select Start Presentation to release question(s) to students.
  6. The question will appear on the screen. Students will see the question listed under Questions and Attendance
  7. To share your screen in Zoom, select Share Content from the Collaborate Panel. Select Share Application/Screen and select the window of your Top Hatscreen. Note: Browsers differ in the way this feature works.
  8. As students answer the question, you can show the live responses by selecting the Responses button.
  9. Select Close to end the answer submission process.
  10. Select Correct to show the correct answer (if one has been identified).
  11. To end the presentation, use the Esc key on your laptop.

See Also:

Keywords:polling, synchronous, zoom   Doc ID:104077
Owner:Timmo D.Group:Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
Created:2020-07-16 15:00 CDTUpdated:2021-08-20 13:01 CDT
Sites:Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring, Learn@UW-Madison
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