Monday, December 03, 2012

Using Google Forms to provide quick student feedback

What is one of the biggest challenges in teaching today? I would argue that student engagement could be on possible answer to this question. Possible reason for this is that when we provide students the chance to demonstrate what they know/have learned, the feedback that they receive is slow and does not provide the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

Regardless of students being able to define RPG, LARP, or MMORPG, this is a generation of gamers. Being a gamer today does not mean that you are put on a costume or carry a 20-sided die in your pocket to assist in your daily decision making. With the advent of social networks, there are multiple opportunities for students, both young and old, to participate in a form of learning or entertainment that provides the user with immediate feedback, progress check points, and chances to experiment with choices and then deal with the consequences.

There have been a flurry of articles discussing if homework has outgrown is usefulness. Recently, there was even an article in the Des Moines Register about a teacher providing her students with quests to complete.

Students want to demonstrate what they have learned and how they can improve if they have made some mistakes. Students also want rapid, if not immediate feedback so they can accomplish the former.

To assist with this challenge, you can use a feature of Google Docs to bring a traditional assessment measure closer to the 21st century. I am assuming that you are familiar with Google Forms. If not, you can view the video from Google here:

While google forms can help with the data collection for an assessment, there is the still the issue of how to provide feedback quickly.

By utilizing some relatively simple spreadsheet formulas, you can have the Google Form grade the answers once they have been submitted.
The grading formula is seen below.
What you will need to do is to develop your quiz in the Google docs and then enter the answer key as the first entry in the spreadsheet. When you look at the spreadsheet you will see the the questions/column headers are in the first row. Essentially, what the formula is telling the spreadsheet to do is if the entry in cell B2 is the same as $B$2, then give it a score of 1, if not, a score of 0. Now, the difference between B2 and $B$2 is that when you drag this formula down the spreadsheet for every entry, the B2 will change to B3, B4, B5, etc for each subsequent entry; the $ in front of the cell letter and number makes it static, and will not change with a dragging of the formula. (The same is try for C, D, and E). If you have more than 4 items, just extend the formula accordingly

The key to this method is a script that was originally written by Romain Vialard and modified by Dr. Henry Theile. The script can be found here.
In the above link, you can see the instructions on how to apply the script to your form and even make modifications to alter how the report is sent (i.e. correct answers only vs hints to improve). You do NOT have to be a programmer to apply these and begin providing students with faster feedback as we transition to more authentic assessments. Those will be discussed in later posts.

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