Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Know your Students before ...

Retrieved on Jan 29, 2013 from here
Here we are in the second week of Diffimooc. I still admire Twitter live chats and tweeting all what we do and share what we read. The task of this week is to explore tools that might provide me insight into the learners in my classrooms and how might I use this information. Lee Graham shared a lot of resources that can help us to get started our exploration journey. Among the tools that she shared is SurveyMonkey which is an online tool for creating surveys of 10 questions for free. I use it frequently with my students when creating new online classes to identify their needs and skills before they get involved. Ready-made questionnaires and tests of interests, personality or multiple intelligences are also great tools to know more about what students have so I can modify my teaching style and approach to match their expectations. As teachers, we don't know what is going on in our students' minds. These tools can help them express what they can't say to us directly. However, we shouldn't only rely on such inventories, surveys, questionnaires and tests because some students don't respond honestly or they don't have the ability to identify their goals, wants and needs. We can also use our eyes as Joshua emphasized in his post. Observing students while they are working on activities, working in groups, or presenting their products provides us a lot of spontaneous and honest information about them.

To answer the essential question of week 2, I googled the phrase "tools for creating surveys, questionnaires, and tests" and found a variety of tools that I didn't try before. Here is a detailed list of what I have found:
  1. Google Form: It helps you to create online forms and analyse the results.
  2. Forms on the Fly: It provides tools for interactive quizzes, tests & diagnostics that deliver feedback, including comment, scores and graphs, based on answers given.
  3. Poll EverywhereIt's the easiest way to gather live responses in any venue: conferences, presentations, classrooms, ... anywhere.
  4. PollSnack: It is the easiest online tool for polls & surveys, allowing you to create and conduct questionnaires without having to learn complicated software.
  5. Brainsbuilder: It is an online assessment tool used to quickly and easily create and manage distributed tests, quizzes, surveys and exams. Including graded exams, questionnaires and personality tests. 
  6. For more tools, please feel free to visit my diigo list.
These tools above help you to create your own surveys, tests, quizzes, forms, questionnaires and exams that match your students' needs and interests. I don't like to use ready-made resources in my classes. Sometimes, these resources don't cover all my students' characteristics and the context in which they learn. Creating your own resources putting in mind your students will lead to more honest and valid responses. These responses and information about them can be a starting point for teachers to reflect on their teaching approaches they use, lesson plans they prepare, activities they create, goals they set ... etc. 

In each semester, I ask my new students to use a blank paper and divide it into 3 columns: What they like in the previous teacher's classes,  What they don't like about his/her teaching and what they expect from me. It's is a little bit traditional way, but it works well with me as I have no computers with internet in my classes. Then, I read their responses very carefully and try to avoid these things that my students don't like. Honestly, I always see big smiles and happy faces when I do something they mentioned in their responses. Students will get involved and become more intrinsically motivated because you tap into their emotions, feelings, needs, and interests. Above all, you value their opinions and integrate them into their learning process.


  1. Azhar,
    Thanks for sharing so many great resources. I have not used any of these except for survey monkey. I made a survey for my students. Then we decided to make one for the school staff. We sent the link out in an email and are awaiting the results. So fun!
    I love your idea about the folded paper. Simple, yet (as you have proven) powerful.

  2. Dear Lori,
    Thanks so much for dropping by. SurveyMonkey is a great tool for creating surveys. However, when you want to create a diagram for analyzing results visually, you have to transfer to a premium account.

    Wish you the best of luck!
    Best Regards!

  3. Thanks for posting all the great resources. I've added them to my diigo! The one I keep hearing about is poll everywhere. I hear it is replacing clickers. I'm always looking for ways to insert technology and technology practice with my students. I think these quick surveys are one avenue for student practice.

  4. Dear Barbra,
    Thanks so much for passing by. Yes, Polleverywhere seems cool for me and my students. I'm looking forward to use some of them in the coming semester.

    All the best!