Thursday’s Tip: Student Surveys

FDR HS Classroom 1976

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Getting to know your students (and their families) is one of the most important functions of the opening days of a school year. To most effectively facilitate learning, you have to know what will appeal to student sensibilities. Planning cooperative groups will require an intimate knowledge of personalities and learning style preferences. There are even online tools that can help you get to know your students.

As a part of Google Docs, Google Forms allow you to create your own online survey to determine student preferences. The form is easy to set-up and provides options such as drop-down lists, check-boxes, multiple choice, short and long answers, and even a scale tool. The student answers are recorded conveniently on a Google Spreadsheet. Statistics from surveys can be easily summarized in charts and graphs or simply used to determine individual student profiles.

Survey Monkey is another free, online survey tool with many of the same options.

For ideas as to setting up student learning preference surveys, check out the following examples or use these surveys instead of creating your own:

Besides learning student preferences and personality traits, online survey tools can be used in acquiring feedback from parents. Set up a survey to see how parents would like to be informed of classroom announcements. When conference time arrives, use a survey to determine schedules. Garner feedback on recent projects or homework assignments. The opportunities for parent feedback are endless.

How have you used surveys at the beginning of the year? Have you ever tried online surveys? What have you learned from assessing learning styles at the beginning of a school year?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: Online Voting

Image from Geek & Poke, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 License.

One of the most engaging aspects of our Presidents is the election process. Even with our current president in the middle of his term, there is still talk about the next election. The election process is a great way to engage students when talking about our governmental officials.

Now, there are several great online tools one can use when holding your own elections.

Google Forms is the feature in Docs that allows users to set up online quizzes, surveys, applications, and even voting ballots. Forms are easy to set up and share. Results are automatically recorded on a spreadsheet. Real-time results in attractive graphs can be shared quickly. The only issue is that Google Forms offers very few options when it comes to limiting the number of times participants vote. One can assign unique codes or usernames that are easy to monitor on the spreadsheet, but this doesn’t allow for privacy. If your school has the Google Apps suite, ballots can be required to include a unique email address or user name.

Survey Monkey is another popular survey tool that allows for elections or polls. Using the email invites, you can avoid double-voting. Survey Monkey also has some advanced features for viewing and analyzing results. The best part is that like Google Forms, it’s free!

While these are the two most popular survey sites that can also serve as voting tools, there are many other online tools out there for voting purposes. BallotBin is an easy-to-use and simple service to collect votes. eBallot takes ridding the world of paper ballots seriously as they provide top-notch security features, analysis tools, and even a paper-hybrid option. For an extensive list of online voting tools, check out Mashable’s list of 40+ online polling tools.

Are there other tools or techniques for running online voting? How do you teach the election process to your students?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.