Apps in Action: Using Socrative as an effective AfL Tool

Socrative is a superb app which makes enables teachers to quickly and easily assess the progress of their learners. Analogue tools like mini whiteboards and the humble Post It note are great: they allow teachers to gauge the progress of each individual and ensure that everyone is actively involved, however there are issues. For example, unless it is a brand new set of mini whiteboards the likelihood is that pens will have run out and will need to be replaced or board rubbers will be missing, whilst Post It notes may accidentally get lost or misplaced making keeping a record of student progress all the more difficult. Socrative looks to overcome these issues and simplify the whole process.

What is it?
Socrative is free, formative assessment tool. It provides instant feedback to both teachers and students. The content is personalised meaning you are not bound by pre-installed quizzes. Everything can be tailored to meet the needs of you and your classes. It provides comprehensive whole class and individual student reports, making progress tracking much easier. Perhaps most significantly, Socrative works on any device with a internet connection, whether it’s through the iPad app in a 1:1 classroom, via a web browser in an ICT suite or even through the mobile website on students smart phones.

Getting Started
Before you get started with Socrative, you will first have to sign up for a free account, either through their website or through the dedicated iPad app. Once you have done that and signed in, the first thing you may want to do is change your Room Name: this is what learners will enter on their devices to join your Room. By default, it assigns you a name which is a random mix of numbers and letters which is not always the easiest to remember and can often result in students entering it incorrectly. To change this, simply select Settings – My Profile and type in a new Room Name.

You are now ready to begin creating your own content. To do this, select Manage Quizzes:

IMG_1143

You will be presented with a screen like the one above. Here you can opt to either create a new quiz, import a quiz that somebody else has already made, view and edit any quizzes you already have stored or view any reports that have been generated. To create a new quiz, choose Create Quiz:

IMG_1145

First give your quiz a name and then start adding questions. You have the option to add either a multiple choice question, a true or false question or a short answer, where learners can input their own response. Once you have chosen your question type, enter the question in the box provided. If you are using a multiple choice question, you will also have to enter the possible responses and don’t forget to mark which one is correct! For a short answer question, you can opt to enter correct answers: for example if you were to ask “What is the capital city of Australia?” you could input the correct answer and it would tell students whether they were right or wrong. You are also able to enter an explanation for the answer. Another useful feature is the ability to add an image to any question type: so for example I could ask “Which country does this flag belong to?” and add a picture of a flag to the question. I could either use a multiple choice answer and give students a list of countries to choose from or opt for a short answer question and ask them to type in the correct answer.

Once you have created your quiz, don’t forget to press Save & Exit.

Quiz Options
Once you have created a quiz, you are ready to start using Socrative. You will need to ask learners to open either the Socrative Student app or webpage and enter your Room Name. On your device, you will see a screen like this:

IMG_1142

The first option is to Start A Quiz. This will push the questions out to students who then respond using their device. The app then collates their responses as a table in real time, meaning you get immediate feedback as to how learners are progressing. Before you start your quiz, you will have a couple of options to choose from:

– Student Paced – Immediate Feedback – this gives learners immediate feedback after each answer. Questions are completed in order and learners cannot skip or modify their answers.
– Student Paced – Student Navigation – learners can edit responses, skip questions and complete them in whichever order they please before submitting their responses when they have completed it.
– Teacher Paced – you control the flow of the questions meaning students cannot move on until you choose to.

There are also some additional settings which can be edited such as disabling student names (anonymous responses), disabling student feedback or randomising the order of questions. There may be times when you want students to respond anonymously, however if I am looking to assess their progress, having their name is vital.

Alternatively, you may opt to run a Space Race. This is similar to a regular quiz, however learners work in teams with up to 20 teams able to participate at once. The aim is to answer questions correctly as quickly as possible and be the first to get the rocket to the finish line. This is highly engaging and great if you’re looking to add a little friendly competition.

One of the most useful options is the Quick Question function. This allows you to verbalise a question which could be either multiple choice, true or false or short answer and get a response from every student. One of my favourite features when using this is the Vote option built in to the Short Answer Quick Question. For example, you may ask learners to define a key term and initiate a short answer quick question. Once they have responded, you could ask them to vote for the definition they feel is the best.

Perhaps my favourite feature is the Exit Ticket function. This automatically asks students the following 3 questions:

– How did you understand today’s material? – multiple choice options to gauge understanding
– What did you learn in today’s class? – a short answer box for learners to type a response
– Please answer the teacher’s question – a short answer box to answer a specific question set by the teacher

This is a simple, yet highly effective plenary which requires no setup and assesses the learning of all. It even collates this into a handy report which can be reviewed at any time.

Just as an idea, how about asking students to download the Socrative Teacher app and design their own quizzes based on the learning as an extension activity. This acts as a useful strategy to consolidate what they have learnt!

Conclusion
Socrative is an immensely powerful assessment tool that makes it much easier to gauge the progress of every learner. The fact it works on any device with an Internet connection makes it accessible to all which further enhances its appeal. Whilst there are many other similar apps aimed at improving assessment, I feel Socrative is one of the easiest to use and most effective.

For more information, be sure to follow Socrative on Twitter as they post a number of great resources for using Socrative in more advanced ways like turning student responses into word clouds. Also check out Socrative Garden: a collection of shared quizzes, ready to download and use.

mzl.bvesrlkvSocrative Teacher by Socrative, Inc. is available for free on the App Store.

*all prices and links correct at the time of publication and are subject to change

Advertisements

One thought on “Apps in Action: Using Socrative as an effective AfL Tool

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s