Making assessments feel less so

My current job exposes me to educational tech and software I might otherwise not know about. Some is exciting and has promise, but much feels unnecessarily zeitgeisty. If I were an emperor I would not be in short supply of new clothes.

Criteria for new software

I've set myself some ground rules when considering software for use in school:

  1. It must be easy to use or offer considerable benefit proportional to the learning curve.
  2. It must be cheap or free.
  3. Where possible, it must build on existing software and systems employed.
Google Forms and Flubaroo

Google's offerings frequently meet my criteria for new software and over a period of months and years I have come to substitute more and more traditional methods and programs for the Google equivalent. Each September I decline a chunky teacher's planner, preferring to stay organised with Calendar and Keep. Memory sticks have given way to Drive and my mark book is a Sheets and Classroom hybrid. I just love the simplicity offered by Google Apps for Education as well as its cross-platform and inclusive nature.

While I have known about and used Sheets and Forms for a while, I have only recently ventured to explore add-ons, prompted by a clickbaity "Top ten teacher tools" type blog post. This is how I discovered Flubaroo, an assessment tool and add-on to Google Sheets.

An example Google Form A Google Form used as a maths assessment tool.

With a little forethought, a standard assessment test can be translated into a Google Form. Pupils answer questions by responding to familiar form items: multiple choice, check boxes, text and paragraph entry. Responses are collated in Sheets, Flubaroo compares the results against the teacher's answers then a report is generated highlighting problem questions. This has the double benefit of making a test feel more interactive and quizzy for the pupils, and there is no need for teachers to mind-numbingly leaf through stacks of tests, inputting zeros and ones in a spreadsheet ready for question level analysis.

My main gripe with conventional question level analysis tools, such as the various Excel spreadsheets designed to accompany SATs tests found floating about the interweb, is that the usefulness of the output is disproportionate to the time and effort involved in completing the input. The act of marking in itself reveals what a cohort need to work on. Further analysis usually just confirms this on some way.

Mr Bean does data entry Me, inputting test data for question level analysis pre-Flubaroo.

Flubaroo's analysis is effective and immediate. Once pupils have completed the assessment, the teacher enables Flubaroo on the Sheet containing responses and within a few seconds a new tab shows analysis. Questions are highlighted orange where less than 60% of the cohort were accurate, and pupil names are highlighted red where they achieved below 70%.

Flubaroo Analysis of a assessment about maths in Python Maths in Python: It looks like this cohort understand the conventional operations but struggle with integer and modulus division and that 'Pupil C' requires some intervention.

Pupils receive grades by email if teachers choose to share them. Any incorrect answers are displayed in a red box along with the correct answer.

An email report sent to the pupil An email report is immediately sent to pupil, allowing them to review their answers.

Time invested in learning how to use Forms, Sheets and Flubaroo together is well worth it. The process does not replace other assessment strategies, but compliments them. Its key benefit is the time it saves when compared to other question level analysis tools. Within one lesson an assessment can be completed, marked and returned to pupils, with remaining teaching time focussed on addressing misconceptions and next steps while the learning is still fresh in the minds of the pupils.

Click here to be taken to the Flubaroo website.