25 October 2012

I'm Never Using Another Scantron Again (But I Still Love Feedback))

Anyone else hate scantrons? No, not the idea of multiple-choice assessments - those have their place. I just mean the actual slips of paper and machine. I don't know how I thought those got graded when I was in high school, but I certainly had no idea it was this.

And as a teacher I certainly never feel like this when I'm waiting in line for the ONE machine in the building.
The only role of scantron machine is to count #2 pencil marks on a piece of paper. The only role of scantron slips is to fill in bubbles to be scored by hand (bleh.) or run through the scanner. As I've blogged before, uni-taskers shouldn't have a place in organizations that require flexibility and adaptability of resources.

So, I've stopped using scantrons. Two things have emerged as more useful than a scantron ever was because feedback is much more quickly available, and item analysis is automatically figured for me. On the iPads, I use an app called Socrative, which allows for MC and free-response items, and even allows for immediate feedback on MC items if I want. The other approach, which I think I like even better, is to create a blank Google Form with about 50 items and choices that just say "A, B, C, D."

Advantages with Socrative:

  • Exit slips are ready made
  • Interactive, animated buttons/screens make it "game-y"
  • Embedded images
  • Easy sharing/accessing of survey/assessment through the app interface
  • Real-time results graph

Advantages with the Google Form:
  • I can use the current district curriculum without digitizing everything
  • A method accessible to any computing scenario (lab, laptops cart, iPad cart, 1:1)
  • If my wireless cuts out kids can still work until it comes back on
  • Students can go back, skip, and work around as they please (Socrative makes the student work sequentially).
I grade those Google Form bubblesheets with an app script called Flubaroo. Here's a tutorial on using integrating Flubaroo with your current forms.

My students like using the Socrative app for more formative, informal assessments when it doesn't really matter if they tap the wrong square and are whisked to the next question, but I got a lot of positive feedback from the "bubblesheet" this August, too (They'd used both tools by then.)

Bottom line

Flubaroo scoring is fast, reliable, and easy (and not app or device dependent. Another thing I'm big on.) I had a couple of my classes' finals completely "graded" about 2 minutes after the final student was done last spring. Quick feedback is a high-yield strategy for developing goal-setters.

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Thanks for sharing!