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Student Feedback: Spring 2009

As a teacher, I take student feedback very seriously, but it has always been difficult to compile student comments from the old-school handouts which seem to be the standard.  This year I decided to do something a little different, so I set up a Google Form and asked the students to complete it online.  This was not too much of a problem logistically, as many of my classes are taught in the computer/language lab anyway.  I simply embedded the Google Form in the university e-learning course for each class and pointed them at it.  The results were near instantaneous, and Google did a rather nice job of compiling the data in visual form for me. (bottom left)

Whereas the visualization of the multiple-choice questions is done quite well in the Google Form summary page, I found the display of the data from the open-ended questions to be far less satisfactory.  Certainly, I could go directly into the spreadsheet to view the data, but I wanted a better way to visualize it, so that I could post it somewhere in my office as a constant reminder.  It was this desire that reminded me of, which is a great resource for visualization of textual data.  I have used this before for visual representations of articles I have written, and as slides introducing presentations, and I have found the results quite pleasing.  So, here is a Wordle map (below right) of the most common words used by my students in response to the following question: “What did you like about this class?”

Wouldn’t it be nice if Google added this format automagically?