There are many definitions for the term formative assessment. Black and Wiliam (1998a) described formative assessment “as encompassing all those activities undertaken by teachers, and/or by their students, which provide information to be used as feedback to modify the teaching and learning activities in which they are engaged” (p. 7). Google Forms is a free web-based software program that is part of the Google Apps for Education (GAFE). Google Forms can be used as an email collector, event register, poll creator, and for this commentary, formative quiz designing tool. Google Form quizzes allow educators to create, individualize, adapt, and deploy instructional content in an online customizable formative assessment quiz format. Individual quizzes aggregate real-time data that provide measurable performance outcomes for educators and learners. Google Form question types include short response, multiple choice, checkbox, linear scale, and grid (“Getting started with Google Forms”, 2016). Multiple choices and check box question types share design characteristics including a horizontal linear display format. Additionally, multiple choice answer choices are presented in circular answer format whereas check boxes are squared. The one fundamental difference is the check box answer type permits learners to select more than one answer choice. This more than one answer choice function follows similarly to current computer-based K-12 Common Core assessments. For example, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) exam that is currently administered in fifteen states (Gewertz, 2017) defines the function of selecting more than one answer choices as “multiple choice, multiple correct responses” (“Smarter Balance Question Types,” 2016). Having this option enables facilitators the option of presenting a mock-testing scenario, offering students a similar computer-based environment to the SBAC. Google Forms also allows video embedding that can be followed by a series of questions related to the video. This format is similar to questions found on the SBAC exam, including the “Listening” section.
Over the past year, Google Forms has introduced several other updates including an answer shuffling function. The shuffle ordering functioning allows facilitators to administer a quiz and shuffle the ordering of answer choices for students. This added function can limit academic dishonesty amongst learners within the classroom environment, allowing for the facilitator to focus on formative assessment data or technology issues. Furthermore, Google Forms has also added question skipping logic. With question skipping logic, facilitators can design quizzes using a tiered answering system. For example, if a learner answers questions one, two, and three correct, they could be directed toward a more challenging question on the quiz or the facilitator can choose to end the quiz right there. In contrast, if a learner gets questions one and two right, but misses three, they could be directed towards an easier set of questions. Question skipping logic offers facilitators with a powerful tool that can differentiate and individualizes formative assessment goals.
As the new school year is upon us, Google Forms continues to provide a valuable free formative assessment option that is easily customizable for all student learners.
Black, P. J., & Wiliam, D. (1998a). Assessment and classroom learning. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy, and Practice, 5(1), 7–73.
Google Learning Center: Get started with Forms (2016). Retrieved from https://gsuite.google.com/learning-center/products/forms/get-started/
Smarter Balanced Question Types. (2016, September 30). Retrieved from http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/question-types.asp