How AUA Tracks Learner Retention with Live Polling

October 25, 2018

Melissa Goodman, American Urological Association (AUA) Programs Manager and her team member, Erin Nichols, wanted a better way to track learner retention at their Annual Meeting. They wanted to set up benchmarks that determine learner knowledge before, during and after each session.

Why track learner knowledge, retention and outcomes?

Before we get to the details, let’s first tackle why Goodman and Nichols wanted to track learner knowledge and retention.

Needs Assessment

The first reason they want to track learner outcomes is to identify gaps in knowledge and retention. This allows AUA to fine-tune the learner experience as they go along and deliver content to attendees that they want and need. It takes the guesswork out of conference programming and allows planners to strategically react to learner needs.

Attendee Engagement

The second reason AUA tracks learner outcomes is to deliver a better educational experience to attendees.

“Having speakers ask questions in large general sessions invites participation,” Goodman explains. “The best questions help speakers create a discussion that is relevant and timely, so attendees receive value in every session and stay engaged with the conversation.”

Using benchmarking to track learner retention

AUA used a method called benchmarking to track learner knowledge, engagement, outcomes and results. They gathered information about attendee knowledge before the session started, bookended the session with the same questions to track new knowledge gained, then followed up six months later to analyze retention. Here’s how.


At the beginning of each participating session, speakers polled attendees with 5-10 questions and showed the results in real-time using specially designed Audience Response software for the AUA event app. The poll would begin on attendee’s smartphones and tablets as soon as the speaker triggered it.

“It’s a simple one-click to launch questions and calculate results,” says Chiara Fortunato, CadmiumCD Client Experience Manager. “The results show up in bar graph format so attendees can easily understand their own knowledge as well as (that of) their peers.”

Live Polling

Speakers then delivered their presentations before running a second round of live polls. This one was to test knowledge again directly after they delivered relevant information. Attendees could see how much their knowledge improved and AUA had a solid record of learner activity and knowledge gained.

“This is the perfect opportunity for live learning,” says Goodman. “The speaker can see the results instantly and create a discussion around the answers.”

Crowdsourced Q&A

Another benefit of using an Audience Responses System to collect this information is that it comes equipped with a questions and answers tool. Attendees can pose questions via the app and other attendees in the session can upvote the best questions. Goodman explains why this is important: 

“In large general sessions, the crowdsourced Q&A tool gives everyone a chance to participate,” she says. “The vote up aspect is great because it lets you know what topics and questions are most relevant and what’s on people’s minds.”

Follow Up Survey

The final piece to successful benchmarking is to follow up after the event to determine retention. AUA uses a survey tool to reach out after the conference. 

“We check leaners in at the beginning of each session so that we have a good gauge on who attended,” says Goodman. “Six months later, we deliver a post-conference test to determine how well learning was retained.”

This helps AUA gauge how well their attendees are responding to and using information delivered in their programs.


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