Google Forms for Collecting Student Data

Collecting student data is a commonplace activity during the start of any course. Basic student info like name, contact information, experience, demographics, and so forth can be vital for any teacher. Skill diagnostics or needs analysis is another kind of data that is important to collect, which can be used to shape the direction of a course. Traditionally this is done as a paper questionnaire handed out at the beginning of the semester. However, organizing data spread out over a dozen or a hundred pages is not easy. Comparing the information or getting “the big picture” is equally as challenging. Google Forms can easily take care of this for you.

Google Forms are easily constructed web-based forms which save their data in an Excel-like spreadsheet. Making a form is pretty self-explanatory. The form can be given out as a shortened link, or as a QR code, and students can take it right their on their smartphones if they have them or on any computer.
Responses are instantly recorded. Once you access the responses, you can do all sorts of data manipulation techniques. You can easily sort or filter the data in any way you’d like. Using the same functions as Excel, you can find averages, count occurrences, grade answers, or anything else you may want to do.

How I Use Them
At the start of the semester I create a form that asks for students’ basic information, their career goals, a self assessment of their skills, and how they study English. I embed this into a private post on my blog. It can only be accessed by registered users. I do this to make sure all students register for my site. I collect their emails and phone numbers and add then to my Excel grade book. The emails are essential for viewing their grades online through the KB Gradebook plugin I use. I then read all their responses in order to get a good picture of who my students are. If i notice students are interested in working on pronunciation, culture, expressions, etc., I make sure to add that to my teaching focus.

At the end of the semester, I make a similar form with similar questions and then compare their responses to see if they feel they have improved and if they generally learned what they wanted. The end of semester questionnaire also asks students to evaluate my course and my teaching. I will write more about these types of questionnaires in a separate post.

Tips
1. You should ask a question that will allow you to sort their responses in the same way your attendance sheet or gradebook is organized. For example, students are sorted by student number so I require that information and then sort my sheet in that way. I also do this so I can quickly see who did my survey and give them the proper participation points.

2. Make sure to do an exit survey!