So surely surveys must be giving businesses valuable information, otherwise they would not offer rewards for completing them. But can surveys be used in our classrooms the same way? ¡Absolutamente!
Now, there is no reason you can't just write a survey and give it the pen and paper way, but I think it is worth a look at some of your more techie options. There are obvious advantages to having your students take surveys online:
- easier to compile results as quantitative responses are calculated for you
- students tend to be more honest since you won't recognize their handwriting
First of all, let's look at some of the best online survey tools available for teachers:
1. Google Forms - advantages: easy to use, great visual representations of results, and 100% free! disadvantages: students must have computer access to complete
2. Typeform - advantages: great style and format that would be easy for gathering feedback even from the elementary age student, disadvantages: set up is slightly more complicated, some types of questions are available in the paid service only
3. Surveymonkey - advantages: lots of options and ways to customize, disadvantages: you have to pay to get the full range of options
Once you have decided on your survey tool of choice, there are actually a lot of things that you can use them for...
A) GATHERING FEEDBACK ON YOUR COURSE or your teaching is the obvious use and surveys can certainly help us to reflect on our practice through the eyes of our students. Some will debate the validity of student responses on surveys, but that's where I think you need to go into giving surveys with eyes wide open. There are always going to be jerks, and if you can't take the jerks (or at least what they might say) then you may not want to give surveys that are more personal in nature. However, if you really have an interest into gaining insight into how you might make the jerks a little less jerky, you may be surprised.
Here is an example of a survey I have given as an end of the year survey for my Spanish 2 course.
B) STUDENT INTEREST SURVEYS are often given at the beginning of the school year. They are a way to stay in touch with the individual personalities that are entering your classroom and are typically not related to the class. Instead, they try to find out what your students are engaged in outside of class - what sports do they play, what video games do they like, what hobbies do they have? These can be very useful to have if you want to be prepared to break down the barriers with more difficult students. Taking an interest in them as people, beyond the context of the classroom, is one way to proactively manage behavior problems.
Here is a survey I give at the beginning of the year that is kind of a mix between a student interest survey and a technology access survey.
C) STUDENT LEARNING STYLE SURVEYS are another common beginning of the year survey. These typically aim at finding out which type of learning your group favors - visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc. It will help you gain an awareness as to where your students are coming from and is also great information to include as background knowledge when someone is coming in to observe or evaluate your class.
D) PERSONALIZING VOCABULARY to make sure it includes words that your students will actually want to use can be done easily by asking students to submit ideas for what they would like to know how to say and then using a tool like Wordle to look at the most common responses.
Here is a survey I gave my students before starting a unit where I was planning to teach them to talk about what they like and don't like now compared to when they were little kids.
E) TECHNOLOGY ACCESS SURVEYS ask questions about what technology your students have access to outside of school. If you are planning on using web based tools like Google Classroom, online textbooks, or Youtube videos it is a good idea to ask some basic questions up front. This will allow you to know who might be being honest when they say they couldn't get to an online assignment. This will also let you know how much of your class will need to have hard copies of internet assignments provided. You can also ask about social media use and cell phone access.
F) OPINION POLLS may be a good way to start a class discussion on a cultural issue. Talking about controversial topics like immigration can be difficult for students to do maturely. Having some information ahead of time about students thoughts and beliefs may help you to know exactly what the misunderstandings may be on a certain topic and help you predict what some of the arguments may be so that you can do some research to help further the conversation or debate.
G) STUDENT GROWTH MEASURES can be done at the beginning and end of a unit using an online survey tool. Decide on a small number of skill-based questions that you would like to see your students be able to handle by the end of a unit. Ask them those questions at the beginning and the end to show their progress. You could easily do this in the middle of the unit too as a way to gather data and shift your teaching towards the points students are having difficulty mastering.
How else could you see using surveys with yours students? Comment below!