Asking students what works in Google Classroom

One joy of being back in the classroom last year was plenty of opportunities to try out different Google Classroom strategies with my students. By the end of the year I was feeling very pleased with my use of topic headers, mark up tools, rubrics, video and audio feedback etc, to improve my communication and feedback; but then I started to wonder what my students thought. So I surveyed them.

To try and get the best feedback possible I included a screenshot of each strategy in the question asked and gave them the option of choosing:

  1. I found this very useful;
  2. It was sometimes useful;
  3. I did not notice;
  4. I noticed but did not find it useful.

I also gave them the option of leaving written responses, which offered some very useful clarifying information.

There were no surprises really, except maybe how grateful students were for some of the strategies I asked them about. But, as we all prepare to go back to school, and in my case that will still be online, I thought the results were worth sharing. 

If you are interested in all the data I gathered I have summarised it here: Google Classroom Survey 2021 Summary pdf. For the purposes of this blog post I thought I would share the 4 top strategies that students found helpful:

Numbering assignments so it is clear the order they should be completed (82% found this very useful and 11% found is sometimes useful). I started doing this because of this blog post by Alice Keeler and now that I have started I don’t think I can go back. It not only helps the students but it helps me keep track.

This was really practical for me in D&T especially as there are always new assignments popping up and when they are numbered it helps you keep track and know the order of which you do the tasks when you are behind.

Organising assignments using Topic Headers (75% found this very useful and 18% found this sometimes useful). The important thing here I think is the importance of giving some thought to what are the best topic headers to use and how they are going to be used they can have limited usefulness.

I think this is always useful if you want to refer to a specific topic you did in class, this is good and should always be done in all classes.

Using markup tools like bold and bullets when posting instructions to Classroom (61% very useful and 23% sometimes useful). Interestingly underline and italics seem less useful than bold and bullets.

I found this useful because it highlighted and made me pay attention to important key points.

Adding due dates to all assignments (57% found due dates very useful and 25% sometimes useful). However, even more compelling to me were some of the written comments that indicated how having due dates helped reduce anxiety for some students. Some feedback also indicates that students appreciate it when a time is included with the due date, which is something I don’t usually do.

I found this one extremely useful because it helped to avoid unnecessary panicking when I check the classroom.

It looks like virtual learning is going to be with us for quite a while and more than ever it is important that we think carefully about how we communicate via Google Classroom (or whatever online platform we are using) in order to reduce stress and uncertainty for our students.

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