Monday, May 27, 2013

Creating the Self-Assessing Review Activity

Image: Flickr user redteam
I posted about my attempt to create and implement a review where students can go over material before an exam, and will instantly get feedback through email about their results. In this post, I will explain in more detail the purpose and the procedure for this activity.


In order to help students do well on the exam, I intend to spend some class time reviewing material. I want to be sure that this time is well spent, and getting some information about what content to target in the review will help me increase student understanding. Thus, the review activity has two main objectives:
  1. Help students get an idea of what they can expect on the exam. Both in the kinds of questions that will be asked, and in how their knowledge stacks up against what I expect them to know.
  2. Help me as a teacher target my review time to focus on those topics that many students are struggling with.
I will achieve these goals by:
  1. Providing students with example questions, and giving them instant feedback of their results.
  2. Looking at overall results for each individual question, and targeting those concepts where student understanding is not as complete as I would hope.


Create a form.

I will not go into full detail in this post. But don't worry: I will explain all the steps I used in the next few posts to my blog. I will, however, post enough to get you started on creating your own review. Begin by creating a Google Form. To do this, you will need a Google account. If you're completely new to the idea, a Google search on how to create a form will prove very useful. Enter questions that you would like students to answer. I used a multiple-choice format, but you can use any type of question that has pre-determined responses. By that, I mean that students will select from answers already given. While it is possible to have a Google Form automatically assess all types of responses, it becomes far more complex as you give students more liberty in their choice of response. For example, if a student types an answer, but makes a spelling mistake or forgets to capitalize a word, it will be evaluated by the form as being incorrect.

Link the form to a spreadsheet.

On your form, clink on the menu item Responses - Choose Response Destination. Create a new spreadsheet to collect response information. In this spreadsheet, every time the form is filled out, the response time and all answers will appear in the sheet. This will be useful, because answers will follow the same layout every time, and each time an answer is entered, the linked spreadsheet will be modified to add the new data.


In a future post, I will be explaining how to manage the data once it appears in your spreadsheet. There are a few functions I used in order to manage the data to suit my purposes. They are:
  • Filter. This command compares entries to a specific cell in your spreadsheet. I set it up to compare all entries to those in the first set of responses (which will be the answer key). Filter can either return the cell's value, or leave it blank. I chose to use the filter to eliminate correct responses, but show incorrect responses. This will help me see where students are making the same mistakes as a group, and where to direct my review.
  • If. Anyone familiar with programming will recognize this function. It chooses between two options, based on some criteria. In my case, I used it to check the contents of the filtered responses. Empty cells are given a numeric value (equal to the weighting of the question), and cells that are not empty are given a zero.
  • Average. This finds the average of a range of cells. Useful for calculating a numeric grade.
  • Sort. I used this to sort entries in alphabetical order. Keeps things lined up with my class lists. Very neat and tidy.
Hope you're learning from all this. I know I am!