Designing Assessment

Michael Schmoker talks at great length in his book “Results Now“, of how the power of a common curriculum, common assessments and teachers working together can have unprecedented results in student learning. He cites many studies wherein teachers who seemingly taught the same class had varying levels of effectiveness, mostly through lack of their planning lessons and not designing assessments together, nor collecting data on a regular basis.


Google Forms as a Tool for Designing Assessment

Before I explain how teachers can use Google Forms as an assessment tool, I want to address their use from the standpoint of understanding and measuring student learning because that is ultimately the focus of all teachers. Despite many educators having been taught how to assess in undergraduate and graduate programs, I am amazed at how infrequently some teachers take the time to assess student learning in their classroom. The most common excuses are “This is a work in progress” or “This shouldn’t be graded” are points to consider, but even through process or project-based learning can teachers regularly measure whether lesson objectives have been met and ensure against disaster down the road. Many think that “magically” students will show and in-depth understanding of a topic by unit’s end, but don’t take time for those periodic check ins as formative assessments which are so crucial. Such information gives individuals and teams:

  1. Insight into what lesson objectives have been met
  2. Data on which topics the class understood well, or poorly as a population
  3. Information about which teacher may have taught a benchmark more effectively and thus in turn share their strategies with team members


Adapting Google Forms to your Learning Goals

Google Forms are essentially a survey tool wherein teachers can draft questions, whose answers can be collated and analyzed. Question types are text, paragraph text, multiple choice, checkboxes, choose from a list, scale and grid. The type of question that you choose should correspond to a learning target as outlined below:

Table adapted by Rick Stiggins
Table adapted by Rick Stiggins

Translating these learning targets into questions on Google Forms may look as follows:

Knowledge-Select Response, Check boxes, Chose from a list

Reasoning-Text, Grid, Scale,

Skills-Paragraph Text


Examples of Google Forms Data

Below is a sample of some exit interview data after a lesson on exponents:

Data as information
Data as information

Early in this unit, I chose multiple choice questions as I wanted to focus on a knowledge and skills target with less reasoning. What I learned from this particular exit interview was that my students bombed the second question which gave me some real insight into why they did so poorly and suggested some remediation for the next lesson.


The next example is a entry interview. This is good for those of you who favor a flipped classroom model and want to know how prepared students are when they walk into class:

Entry interview reasoning targets
Entry interview reasoning targets

For this I used a short answer text response as I wanted to see whether students understood some of the deeper reasoning from the independent assignment. There are also some great tools from Google’s script gallery that give analytics on questions and grade them for you. See an example of “flubaroo” here. Such data gives teams insight into some of the deeper understandings we hope to engender.


Time Efficiency

Google Forms allows teachers to collect information quickly and effectively which is what  the goal should be for utilizing new technology in the classroom. Rather than illegible entry or exit slips, Google Forms allow teachers to know exactly what their students know at the beginning and end of a lesson. In an age where many educator’s goals seem to be merely “I want to use more technology in my classroom” this goal fails to link how the uses of technology will improve student learning. Google Forms have real applications if utilized well and frequently.


How are you designing assessment in innovative and more efficient ways? Share your ideas below in the comments!


Image courtesy of Flickr, albertogp123


  1. This tool is great for summerative feedback. We have used Google Forms alot and find it less useful for formative feedback. I’m trialling some (clickers) activotes that I predict will perform better. One barrier for us in using Gforms for formative feedback was the internet bandwidth issue at my school. It was hit and miss if it would work when you wanted it to. That goes for most online tools. I think it’s effectiveness is based on bandwidth.

    1. Hi David, thanks for sharing your experience. Bandwidth is a real challenge for many of these online tools. Google and other modern browsers are getting better at supporting offline web apps, but it can still be a big problem.
      The incorporation of Clickers is a great idea and please keep us informed as to whether is results in better performance. Cheers. Nick

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