On Feb. 3 I performed a bit of an experiment with my high school journalism students.

I had read an article titled, “62 ways to use Google Forms,” and it really got me thinking because a majority of the article concerned how teachers could use this free service.

So I set up a style quiz that covered different points of journalism style I had covered since the beginning of the year with my students.

The questions included, but was not limited to, thing like:

  • Wow should a quote be attributed to a source?
  • What word is largely useless in an article?
  • How do you abbreviate the state name of Kansas in a story?
  • How many sentences should be in a paragraph?

This quiz was valuable because it showed me what I needed to focus on with my students. I found there were some gaps in my students’ knowledge of journalism style.

I also learned a lot about Google Forms and the applications it presents for educators.

First the positive aspects of using Google Forms. It is a great way to go paperless. It allows an unlimited number of students to fill out the form, or in my case take the quiz, at a time.

The forms allow you to create multiple choice, fill in the blank, short essay, scale, check box and select from a list questions.

This creates a platform for a variety of applications. A lot of information can be gathered via this application. This would also be useful in other situations where information other than answers to a quiz needs to be compiled — such as surveys, entry forms, personal and personnel data, et cetera.

Once a person fills out the form, a spreadsheet in your Google Docs queue is automatically updated, and each entry is listed under a labeled header that says which question the data was entered for. This is very handy because it gives you something to easily look over and find what any given individual entered, especially if the first question or entry required is the person’s name.

In the situation that it is a survey and you want people to be anonymous, then you don’t have to ask for a name, and you can make it so all the questions are optional so people don’t have to enter anything if they don’t want to. However, if you set any question to be required, the entrant can’t submit the form until all the required questions are completed.

Again, the applications for this are nearly endless.

However, there were some negatives I encountered when using it for my students in the form of a quiz.

First, I had no way of showing my students how they did. If I printed the spreadsheet to give my students back their exams, they’d also be able to see how everyone else did, which wouldn’t work. Also, it would defeat the purpose of going paperless because I would still be printing something.

Secondly, for grading purposes, it was tough because I couldn’t look at the entire spreadsheet in one screen, so I ended up printing the entire thing anyway, which again defeats the purpose of going paperless with the test.

Thirdly, cheating is possible. Though my students didn’t cheat because I was watching them take the test the entire time, any student could conceivably navigate to the form and put in anyone’s name. I do have the advantage of having small enough classes where I would be able to tell if the quality of answers didn’t match the student who supposedly entered them, but dishonesty could still take place fairly easily.

Lastly, besides it being difficult to grade while staring at the computer screen, there is no way to set up an answer sheet that would automatically kick out a grade. Granted, a person could go in and answer all the question first in order to have an answer key already in the system, but it still wouldn’t grade each entry automatically. Furthermore, if you are using the short essay options, those answers are more subjective, which would make having a predetermined answer very difficult to program in.

Overall, I was still pretty pleased with the use of Google Forms because I can see the multitude of applications it presents. It is easy to create a form, and it is easy to fill out. The only thing I would suggest is using it when it works best. If you are using it for a test or quiz, only do so when you don’t plan to use questions that are subjective, such as essay questions.

Google Forms seems to be great for multiple choice, fill in the blank and select from a list types of question. It is also great for more survey-type applications, such as choosing check boxes and scales.

I will use Google Forms again, but I will be more selective on how and when I use it.

Please follow and like us: