University of Wisconsin–Madison

03.30.16 Google Forms for Formative Feedback, with John Martin

John Martin

John Martin from DoIT Academic Technology shared how to use Google Forms to solicit feedback useful for both instructor and students. Participants left with clear instructions and hands-on experience creating forms and embedding them in your LMS for three kinds of formative feedback:

  • Periodic “How are we doing?” feedback
  • Post-class “muddiest point”-type feedback
  • In situ feedback (clickers) —get a taste of this here

Activity Sheet •  Active Teaching Lab full schedule

John’s Google Forms Story

What is Formative Feedback?

As compared to summative assessment, which helps to measure learning; formative feedback helps guide improvements in teaching and learning.

Why Formative Feedback?

Decades of education research support the idea that by teaching less and providing more feedback, we can produce greater learning (see Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000; Hattie, 2008; Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001). Compare the typical lecture-driven course, which often produces less-than-optimal learning, with the peer instruction model developed by Eric Mazur (2009) at Harvard. He hardly lectures at all to his 200 introductory physics students; instead, he gives them problems to think about individually and then discuss in small groups. This system, he writes, “provides frequent and continuous feedback (to both the students and the instructor) about the level of understanding of the subject being discussed” (p. 51), producing gains in both conceptual understanding of the subject and problem-solving skills. Less “teaching,” more feedback equals better results.— from Seven Keys to Effective Feedback by Grant Wiggins

We sometimes forget that we are also learners in our courses and need feedback as well — beyond an end-of-semester (often not useful) evaluation.

For student learning

  1. Reminder of / reflection on Learning Outcomes — What was I supposed to learn? Did I learn it?
  2. Opportunity to personalize — What hooks/applications in my life can I connect this to, so it sticks?
  3. If shared with class, opportunity to assess how understanding meshes with others’ — Do others have a different understanding than I do? How does their perspective inform mine?

For Instructor teaching

  1. Shift teaching responsibility from instructor to student — How are they connecting content to their lives?
  2. How well did that lesson work? Did they understand what I hoped they would?
  3. Adjust instruction on the fly to personalize for group based on interests or levels of understanding.


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