Using Top Hat to Present Questions to Students in the Classroom

Using Top Hat to present questions to students.

Instructional Challenge

In many of the active learning activities identified, instructors need to ask questions and get feedback on the level of student understanding of content — either before, during, or after it is presented to students. This document walks instructors through setting up and using Top Hat to collect and display responses to questions posed by the instructor or 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, meaning students can use any web-enabled device (laptop, tablet, smartphone) to participate. It also allows text messaging to submit answers so students can use older or flip cell phones. 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 Top Hat 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 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 the appropriate question type from the Top Hat Questions section.
    2. Fill in the question details. Go to the Top Hat Support Site for directions on the specific question type.
    3. Select Save.

Setting Up Students in Top Hat

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 ensure their account is set up correctly. Send students to the following site for directions on setting up their accounts:

Starting the Backchannel

  1. Direct students to use their laptops or mobile phones to interact with the discussion question. Have students select Top Hat from the navigation bar in your Canvas course. They will be brought to your Top Hat course space.
  2. Select Top Hat from your Canvas course. This will bring you 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. As students answer the question, you can show the live responses by selecting the Responses button.
  8. Select Close to end the answer submission process.
  9. Select Correct to show the correct answer (if one has been identified).
  10. To end the presentation, use the ESC key on your laptop.

Other Resources

Keywordstop hat, questionsDoc ID104246
OwnerTimmo D.GroupInstructional Resources
Created2020-07-22 17:06:19Updated2024-04-16 09:10:06
SitesCenter for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring, Learn@UW-Madison
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