Using Top Hat Discussion Questions in Classrooms

Facilitating Top Hat Discussion Questions in the classroom

Instructional Challenge

In many of the active learning activities identified, there is a need for students to provide feedback to questions posed by an instructor in a manner in which others can view those results in a collated manner — whether that manner be anonymized or student-attributed. This document walks you through the process of setting up and using Top Hat to collect and display responses to questions posed by you or the results of collaborative work.


Setting Up Instructor's Top Hat Account

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. UW-Madison now has an enterprise license for Top Hat — allowing all UW-Madison instructors and students to use the tool without paying for a subscription. Follow the links below to set up your Top Hat account and connect your courses to the Top Hat system.

  1. Top Hat - Account Setup (Instructors) (UW-Madison)
  2. Top Hat - Syncing Grades and Rosters with Canvas (LTI 1.3)

Creating a Discussion Question

  1. In your Canvas course, select Top Hat from the navigation bar. You will be brought to your Top Hat course space.
  2. Select the Create button to create a new discussion question.
  3. Select Discussion from the Create Content section.
  4. Enter a title for the question — something short that describes the purpose. You will see this in your list of possible Top Hat questions.
  5. Enter a topic for the discussion. This will display on the screen on the screen when you present the question to students.
  6. As grading is not supported in the free version of Top Hat, information added to the Grading Options is not relevant.
  7. Under Response Options, Responses can be seen by..., select Everyone. This will allow all students to see the responses of others.
  8. Under Response Options, Participants are anonymous to... select Participants only so the results will be anonymous to students, but you will be able to see student attribution.
  9. Select Save.

Setting Up Students in Top Hat Accounts

UW-Madison has procured an enterprise license for Top Hat. The new license allows all UW-Madison instructors and students to use the tool without paying for a subscription. Students should use their UW-Madison credentials to log on to Top Hat. Before students use Top Hat, they should make sure their account is set up properly. Send students to the following site for directions on setting up their account:

Presenting Top Hat Questions

  1. Direct students to either use their laptops or mobile phones to interact with the discussion question. 
  2. In your Canvas course, have students select  Top Hat from the navigation bar. You will be brought to your Top Hat course space.
  3. 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 Present button at the top right corner of the screen.
  5. The Join Code screen will appear. 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. Students can select the Reply button to write their responses. Select Post to send it. It will be displayed on their and your screens.
  8. Because the question was set up to hide student names, each response will be displayed with Hidden on the screen. Selecting it on your screen will reveal the student identity of the post. Students are not able to reveal this information.
  9. While responses are being displayed, other students can like a post and comment on it using their devices.
  10. Responses can be displayed in different orders: Newest response on top, the Oldest response on top, or the Most liked on top.
  11. You can suspend students' ability to submit answers by selecting the Pause button.
  12. To end the presentation, use the Esc key on your laptop.

Other Resources

See Also:

Keywords:top hat, discussions, question types, classroom response system, top hat   Doc ID:104215
Owner:Timmo D.Group:Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring
Created:2020-07-22 07:00 CSTUpdated:2022-10-28 09:19 CST
Sites:Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring, Learn@UW-Madison
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