The Exit Survey: Go Digital for Data Collection

I’ve seen a number of articles recently on the use of “exit slips” at the end of class. They are used for quick formative assessments that allow students to think about what the learned, rate their performance, and provide instructional feedback to the teacher. Exit slips also take up a bit of unplanned spare time left over at the end of class, so typically they are a rush job with rush results.
If you’re in a 1:1 school, though, or if your classroom has enough smartphones and tablets, you can jump start the old exit slips and make them work like rocket fuel in collecting data from your students. With web-based apps you can collect feedback and data in your exit slips to guide the next day’s lessons and to look at variables that might be affecting student performance and that might improve your own performance. Sounds like win-win-win.
There are a number of great polling apps to create to create your digital exit slips. Google Forms, Survey Money, Poll Daddy, Poll Everywhere, Fluid Surveys, and Zoomerang are a good starters with free plans (and premium). Whatever you use, be sure to find something that works well on mobile devices as this activity works well with smartphones and tablets.
When you create your exit slip, be sure to include some Likert-type questions. The Likert questions provide good numerical data for measuring an experience or topic. For your Likert questions, though, I would suggest using a scale of just 1 to 3. That’s easier for students to process and the demarcations are clear. Too much time is spent thinking “is this average or slightly above average?” Students have a gut feeling on these things right away. Parsing exit survey questions down to the finest detail doesn’t necessarily help you measure what you’re hoping to measure. Likert statisticians might cry foul, but, hey, we don’t have a team of statisticians to analyze this either.
Try to avoid the pain of the 1950’s exit slips:  “I would like to learn more about .  . . .” is a question that few students want to answer. It may as well be “I would like to take a state exam in . . . .”  Let’s just get to the point, and get some real data.



If you use Google, be sure to set up the form so that students can see their responses after they submit the exit slip survey.


Here are 14 sample exit slip survey questions that I’ve created.  See it in a Google form here.
1) Main lesson today:  Your teacher will provide this to you.
Have this on the board for students to copy. Make it in a language that they understand.
2) What was your understanding of today’s lesson?  1 = Did Not Understand / 2 = Understood most of it, but had a few questions / 3 = Understood all of today’s lesson
3) Rate the teacher’s performance today:  1 = Not a Good Performance / 2 = Okay Performance / 3 = Very Good Performance
Time to grow some thick skin here, but why wouldn’t you want to get this feedback? Stay good-natured about it, and be ready to share in class. Don’t forget, though, all of the times a student, who you assumed hated you, came up to you and said, “You’re my favorite teacher.” 
4) Rate your performance today:  1 = Not a Good Performance / 2 = Okay Performance / 3 = Very Good Performance
Fair play here, right? Students might be more honest than you think. Regardless, it will give you an idea of how their minds work.
5) Today’s Buzzwords:  If you were searching Google or Instagrok, what words would you use to learn more about today’s lesson?
We live in a world driven by search engines. Students need to figure out how to find what they are looking for.
6) Trending:  Which of these buzzwords have you heard outside of this class recently?
Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and the like all have “trending” content. Can your students be the first to spot trends with what you’re teaching? This is a useful way to connect your class to the outside world.
7) Select how you participated today. You may choose more than one answer.

Asked a question.

Answered a question.

Read for class.

Helped a classmate.

Helped the teacher.

example problem on board


worked on lab

Created video

wrote paper

edited video image

Tailor this question, of course, to suit your class. Journalism will be different than Algebra 1.
8) My question for today is this:
Let’s put an end to that statistic that students on average only get to ask a question once every ten hours. Here’s a safe way for everyone to participate. Use these questions to START class the next day. Questions like “Can you explain all that again?” are a good reason to flip your classroom. For the students who don’t get it, let them replay your lesson on video, stopping and replaying where they need to. Also, students love hearing their questions . . . especially outside-of-the-box questions . . . read out loud by the teacher to class. Their questions seem important when you say them! You can read them anonymously if that makes everyone more comfortable, but many students, though, will shout out, “That’s my question!” 
9) Do you have homework for tomorrow?  Yes/No This can include studying today’s material!
Get students thinking that even if you don’t assign homework, there might be work to do at home.
10) THE CHALLENGE: Take an idea from class today and “run with it.” Think personally, locally, or globally, outside-the-box (must be high school appropriate). This is an optional question.
Keep this as an optional question. Struggling students might not get this far. They might get there next time, though. The day after the exit slip survey when students who didn’t understand your lesson are watching your flipped video, talk with the students who took the challenge. Let them expand on their ideas. Good time for differentiation.

The Social Scientist

With just a few more questions, you can collect some valuable data that would be interesting to compare to student performance.
11) How many hours of sleep did you get last night?  4 hours or less / 5 – 7 hours / 8 or more hours.
12) Did you have breakfast this morning?  yes/no
13) Have you exercised in last 24 hours? yes/no
14) How would you rate your attitude and outlook for today?  1 = Bad Day / 2 = Average Day / 3 = Great Day


As students evaluate their own performance, they might be able to draw their own conclusions on taking care of their minds and bodies and performing well in class. It might also alert the teacher to students who have difficult situations outside of school.
There’s a fine line on these types of questions, though.  If your questions sound too parental, students might not give transparent answers on any part of the exit survey.  Avoid this: “How much time did you waste on the Internet last night talking to your so-called friends who won’t be important to you ten years from now?” Additionally, your tone in class will dictate the students’ temperament on completing the exit survey with honesty and thoughtful effort.
Instead of cramming in the survey at the end of class, realize the value of what you’re collecting and allow time for thoughtful responses. You might use with important lessons or on Fridays to allow for a weekly meta-reflection. You might also create a shorter version, too.  Maybe one that just has two questions with one social-scientist variable question.
What would you add to the survey? What would you leave out?  If you made an abbreviated 3-question survey, what would it include?

Adam Renfro

Adam was a classroom English teacher for ten years and began teaching online in 1998. He now works for the North Carolina Virtual Public School, the 2nd largest virtual school in the nation. Adam has blogged for Getting Smart since September of 2011.

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