Google Forms For Anonymous Student Surveys
By Ish Stabosz
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
A week or so before a big project is due, I like to collect feedback from students to gauge their muddiest points with the assignment. Then I try to devote a bit of class time to addressing the greatest needs among the class.
I’ve done this through informal Q & A sessions, but those never garner much response because of student apprehension to admit misunderstanding in front of the rest of the class. I’ve done it through anonymous hand written notes, which provided more feedback but was cumbersome to analyze and apply efficiently.
Then I started using Google Forms…
…and everything became so much simpler.
Google Forms allows me to create anonymous surveys that can be shared with students just by providing them a link. Last semester, I created a Google Form which asked my students to rate their level of understanding of various aspects of the upcoming Synthesis Essay on a 5-point scale. The results fed automatically into a spreadsheet, where I could calculate the average score for each item.
I learned, for example, that students were far more comfortable with their summaries (mean=4.2) than their conclusions (mean=2.9), so I directed my mini-lecture time to teaching conclusions rather than summaries.
Do It Yourself Google Forms
Here are some pretty straight forward steps to get started with Google Forms. It’s a pretty intuitive application, so I won’t go step-by-step except where I feel the need.
Step 1: Create a New Google Form
Go to drive.google.com and sign into your existing Google account or create a new one. If your a Delaware Technical Community College employee, you can login using your school email and password to access your Delaware Tech Google account. From there, create a new form like this:
Once you create the form, it should open automatically. Give it a new name so you can find it later on.
Step 2: Create Your Questions
Again, Google Forms is pretty intuitive, so I’ll save you the hand-holding here. You’re a big instructor. You can do it.
I will say this. If you want to gather numerical data that can easily be averaged, be sure that the answer options you enter are simple numbers. In other words…
DON’T DO THIS
INSTEAD, DO THIS
Step 3: Set Up a Google Spreadsheet
Once you’ve created your questions, you can set up a Google Spreadsheet to collect the answers and average the results. Sheets is slightly less intuitive, so I’ll provide a bit more direction here.
First, do this in your Google Form
After naming your spreadsheet, it should open up automatically (If not, check your Google Drive). If you’ve ever used Excel before, your new Google Sheet will look eerily familiar. Unless you’ve given your form a few trial runs, it will look pretty much blank, except for your questions chopped up in the top row. I’ve done three fake entries on the survey I just created, so my Google Spreadsheet looks like this:
This spreadsheet is where your data will be dumped once students start completing the survey, but you’ve still gotta analyze the data. Let’s create a new sheet to do that.
Click the PLUS icon down at the bottom-left of the screen, which will create a new tab from which you can access a blank sheet.
On your new blank sheet, you’ve got to designate a separate column for each of the questions that you want to analyze. For my three questions, I’ll give an abbreviated title to each column as so:
Notice how I made sure that column B on my data dump sheet matches up with column B on my analysis sheet. That was intentional. It makes the next step easier.
Now we’ve got to tell the cells directly below our header to calculate the average responses. The image below should help with that.
Here’s the text you need to copy and paste into cell B2 in this case:
=average(‘Form Responses 1’!B2:B)
If you happened to have changed the name of your data dump sheet (which I didn’t say to do, btw), then you’ll obviously need to change the text Form Responses 1 to whatever your new name is.
Now, repeat that for each column, but change the column letter B to match each new column. So, B2:B would become C2:C once I’m working in the next column. The final product looks like this in my spreadsheet.
Now I’ve got averages for all of my responses. Of course, in this silly fake form that I created, these numbers are pretty much meaningless. But here’s the data analysis from my real Synthesis Essay survey:
Students can fill out the survey in 2 minutes at the beginning of class (or for homework), and I can view this analysis instantly. The data helps me immediately decide to focus my instruction where it matters most.
Step 4: “Send” Your Google Form
That big SEND button in the top right corner of Google Forms is how you get students to actually take the survey. You’re given three options: email, link, or embed. I think the most effective way is to copy the link and paste it somewhere in Blackboard (or any LMS) for students to access.
Step 5: Take my survey just for fun!
Okay, this isn’t really part of the tutorial. But I thought it would be fun to hear from the audience using a Google Form just like I showed you how to create. Share your thoughts by completing the anonymous survey below.