Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Student Questionnaire

Do you give your students a questionnaire at the beginning of the school year? I've been giving one every year since I started teaching but it changes from year to year. Some questions I ask to gather information I need about my students, some are to get to know my students a little bit, and some are just for fun. The past couple of years, some of the questions I ask are to gather data that I then use in aggregate in my AP Statistics class activities.

Here are some of the things I've been asking my students...

One of the reasons I need to get info from my students is that the information I receive for my students is sometimes delayed or incomplete, especially at the beginning of the year. Getting basic info like ID numbers can help expedite this process. In my school, students have prefect codes and, for upperclass students, majors that are useful to have. I inquire about a preferred name or nickname that they want me to use. I use a Google form so that I have an electronic file with all the responses to access throughout the year.

I ask about race/ethnicity, using the categories that are listed on the AP exam answer sheet, allowing students to select more than one category (same as it is on the AP answer sheet) along with an option 'prefer not to answer.' I don't particularly care for the categories that College Board uses but it can be useful to have this information when discussing diversity in my class, especially in regards to AP class access. This year, I added a question about personal gender pronouns. 

Some of the questions I ask are the same as or similar to the Census @ School questionnaire. I've modified the question "What is the main method of transportation you typically use to get to school?" to include some more specific options to my area: subway, LIRR/Metro-North, bus, ferry, bicycle, walk, and car. Because my students come from all over New York City, I ask in which borough they live. This year, I'm asking which specific lines the subway commuters use. If there are significant delays on the subway, I'm hoping this might be helpful information to know.

I ask what type of graphing calculator and smartphone students may or may not have. Students without a graphing calculator I reach out to right away to see if they need help getting one. I ask what math course they took last year. I ask "'I like math.' Do you agree or disagree with this statement?" to get a sense of a student's relationship with math. This year, I am adding: "AP Statistics is a challenging class. Do you agree or disagree with this statement?" and "Are you anxious about taking AP Stats?" For the latter, I am using a 6-point linear scale. I am interested in potential statistics anxiety my students might have, which was discussed quite a bit at ICOTS 10.

A few questions I use solely for data in my classroom simulation activities.
  • Which type of chocolate do you prefer?*
  • In which season is your birthday?
  • How many siblings do you have?
  • Do you wear corrective lenses?
  • Rock, paper, or scissors?*
  • Are you right-handed, left-handed, or ambidextrous?
  • Which of the following superpowers would you most like to have?* [invisibility, telepathy, freeze time, super strength, or fly]
Those last two come directly from the Census @ School questionnaire.

I get some great question ideas from my Twitter feed. Last year, Steve Phelps posted this:
So now "Which toilet paper orientation do you prefer?"* is on my questionnaire.

This year's inspiration comes from Ed Southall:
By far, however, the most informative question I ask my students is the last one. "Anything else you want me to know?" It's optional but many students provide me with something interesting to read. Of course, the response topics vary. But here, I learn about what's on their mind at that moment... sports teams, events at home, requests for more information, nerves about applying to college, excitement for the upcoming year, a funny joke, or just a place to leave a message.

*For these questions I randomize the option order.

What kind of questions do you include in your student questionnaire?

[Photo of toilet paper orientation via Steve Phelps; G train from wiki commons.]

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