Monday, May 20, 2013

Self-Grading Review Activity with Google Forms

As the end of the year approaches, I want to help my students do well on their final exams. I know they've probably forgotten some of what they've learned, and some time spent on an in-class review will no doubt be helpful to them.

However, I want to avoid wasting their time by covering concepts they mostly understand. Instead, I'd like to target those concepts that are important, but where student understanding appears to need some reinforcing.

This long weekend, I decided to try out something new. Instead of asking them what they'd like to review, or going over their results and targeting the review that way, I wanted to experiment with some of the new tools that are a part of the Google Apps suite.

So I began by creating a Google Form that included several multiple-choice questions. They are taken from the students' tests, and I've added a few new ones as well. This will allow students to go over the questions as many times as they'd like, and give them a good idea what they can expect on the exam.


What good is a review without feedback? I can collect data that will show me where the students will benefit from review. Great! But without any motivation to the students, I suspect that it may be unlikely that many of them would bother using the review tool.

So I thought "What if I could somehow tabulate their results, and send them an email?" This would give instant feedback, and help students determine how they can expect to do on the exam. Not only would the tool become a valuable study aid, but it will help me guide the review activities in class.

So I spend much of the weekend tinkering. Trying out scripts. Struggling with the FILTER function in my spreadsheet. Finding clunky work-arounds. Tearing

Lo and behold, it works! Hooray! Okay, well, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I'm still working the bugs out.

I completed the form for one of the units that will be on the test. The other units will come later. And the best part? I only have to complete the form once (the first time, before it goes live), and choose the correct answers. This sets up the answer key, and the validation of all future answers in the form. Students can complete the review as many times as they would like, and get their results each time.

Some things I didn't quite figure out:
  • I'm not yet sure how to require Google sign-in for the form. That's not an issue (yet) because students aren't required to have a Google account. In the future, when all students will be using Google accounts, this is a feature I'd like to add.
  • Why my filter function and my if function wouldn't cooperate. I ended up using two sheets just to compare students answers to answer key answers, and then to assign a mark to each question. Not an elegant solution at all, but at least it works.
If you'd like to do something similar, there's a great page that even gives you a template. I decided to try to do mine from scratch, mostly because I really want to know how it works. If you're more interested in having it work quickly, just grab the template. Trust me, you'll save a lot of time and frustration. But, for me personally, the frustration is worth it, because the satisfaction of getting it to work, and knowing why it works, just really can't be beat!


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