Why Should Students Complete an End of the Year Survey?

At the end of each school year I give my students a survey. This survey gives students an opportunity to provide feedback about what worked for them and what did not work for them throughout the duration of the World History course that I teach. I have found, time and time again, that students give very helpful and insightful feedback when teachers allow them the opportunity to do so. The feedback that I have received at the end of each school year has helped me to improve upon class activities and assignments to better reach my students and meet their needs.

Typically I have run off copies of the survey for each student and students would complete the survey, anonymously, as their final assignment. There were a few issues using this method to survey students. For starters, some students did not feel completely comfortable being candid on the survey out of fear that I would recognize their handwriting. The second issue with administering the survey in this manner was collecting the results. I had to go through each survey, one by one, and make note of key comments or answers that would be helpful to me in planning the following school year. After identifying key comments/answers, I would then go back through the results and categorize them for easy reference later. This was an extremely inefficient and time consuming.  I knew there had to be a better way.

At the end of this year, I was getting ready to run off copies of my student surveys when I happened to overhear one of my colleagues talking about Survey Monkey and I thought “Why hadn’t I thought of that myself!” For those of you that don’t know, Survey Monkey is an online survey website. You can create an account and access the website for free. Once you have created your account, you can create a survey and share the link with your students. I use Edmodo for my class website (you can find out more about Edmodo here).Since I already had Edmodo set up, sharing the survey link with my students was very simple. Once I shared the link to my survey on Edmodo, I let my students know that it was there and asked them to take a few minutes to complete the survey. I explained how the survey would help me and offered a few extra credit points to those that completed it. I found that my students were much more comfortable completing the survey online because it was completely anonymous. There is absolutely no way for me to figure out whose answers were whose.

As an added bonus, Survey Monkey analyzes the survey results automatically. Just like that, the problem of collecting and reviewing my student survey results was solved.  All you have to do to see the feedback, nicely categorized, is log in to your account. The fact that accessing, reviewing, and analyzing the survey results was done for me by the website made giving the student survey that much more effective. Since I didn’t have to spend hours sifting through and analyzing the data myself, the trends in student comments were much easier to see, and in turn, to address for the coming year.

You can check out the survey I gave to my students using Survey Monkey here.

If you haven’t already done so, I highly encourage you to give your students a survey about the class(es) you teach. Survey Monkey is a great tool to help you do so!


Team Review Competition

My 10th graders are extremely competitive this year and they love to play games. Any prize will do. Sometimes, when they ask me what they get if they win, I tell them they get bragging rights until the next time we play. Usually, that is a satisfactory answer.

A couple of weeks ago we were coming down to the end of a chapter. I wanted to try something different to review for our test on the Industrial Revolution. We had been playing Kahoot to review for the last couple of tests and I sensed that it was getting old. (My students LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Kahoot by the way. If you don’t know what it is, check it out here. I will have a post about the wonders of this website coming very soon!) Anyway, I wanted to try something different.

The night before review day I racked my brain trying to come up with something, anything, that would work. I browsed online. I asked my husband. I looked through my World History textbook for ideas. Nothing seemed to be easy to prepare and fun for my kiddos to play. The next morning I came up with an idea in the shower while getting ready for work. (The shower is usually where all of my great ideas come to me. Does this happen to anyone else? Or, is it just me?)

Team Review Competition– that is what we were going to do to review for our test. The basic premise of this review is that students work in teams of four to answer a series of thirty short-answer questions. The first team to turn in their answer sheet with all correct answers wins extra credit points. (Yes, I said it. Extra. Credit. Points. They are a rare commodity in my classroom so you can imagine my students’ excitement.) To keep things fair I came up with the following rules for the game:

  1. Only one person can write per team. This person must write all of the answers.
  2. Your team only gets to submit your answer sheet once. If there are any incorrect answers you are disqualified and you cannot win.
  3. If anyone on your team has a phone out, your whole team is disqualified and no one on your team will be eligible for extra credit.
  4. The first team to turn in their answer sheet with all correct answers wins extra credit points. (Possible scenario: Team A is the first to turn in their answer sheet, but they have one incorrect answer. Team B turns in their answer sheet second and has all correct answers. Team B wins because they were the first to submit an answer sheet with all correct answers. The incorrect answer that Team A had would disqualify them.)

I typed up a series of thirty questions and made copies prior to my first period coming in. Each team received one copy of the questions. This ensured that that they had to work together to answer them. Also, since the rules state that only one person can write, there was no need for multiple copies of the questions per team.

When my first period class came in, I didn’t know what to expect. I decided I was just going to wing it, explain the game, and let them have at it. (Fingers crossed, of course, that this game would be a hit.) Sure enough, it was a hit. My students loved playing. The Team Review Competition catered to my students’ competitive side and gave them an excellent review of the material for their test.

The really great thing about this review game is that it is completely student centered. My students had to rely on one another to answer the questions. If they asked me a content question while the competition was going on, I told them to confer with their team. What I loved most about this game was that I was able to stand back and watch all of my students working, learning, and reviewing together.