I’m terrible at printing tests and quizzes before they’re due, and one day I’ll learn my lesson. I thought that would be today because the printer jammed on me 4 times in a row. I only had 45 minutes until the start of the day, and I was giving a test AND a quiz in two different classes.

All week, students had been using Socrative for the iPad, and so I thought “hey, I could probably copy and paste all the questions from Word to Socrative in time.” So I did. About 40 questions later, I was ready to go, and my thought was “whew, Socrative saved me!”, but I hadn’t quite thought through all the difficulties taking a quiz or a test like this might pose.

**Pros**

Saves paper (trees?). Students still use scrap paper to show work, but I didn’t run 80 copies to be handed out.

All my math assessments are open-ended responses (not multiple choice). Socrative has an open-ended (short answer) response option so it was actually pretty fast to transfer the quiz questions.

As students are working, they can’t cheat off each other because they’re only working on one question at a time. Some students tried, but quickly gave up when their peers outpaced them because they hadn’t studied.

The Excel sheet it outputs gives me a nice overview of where the class stands. Even the open-ended response, which I have to grade myself, I can use background colors on excel to mark wrong answers and see where everyone is at a glance.

**Cons**

I have to grade looking at paper (where they showed their work) and the computer (Excel). I believe work is essential to understanding a student’s misconceptions and the simple input box format just isn’t good for showing math calculations.

Students may retake my quizzes, and I encourage them to use the quizzes to study for the retake (I try to make them very different). However, unless I do something fancy with Google Spreadsheets, and/or print off a bunch of quiz results, students will not be walking home with a quiz that they can study.

Students also do “test corrections”, where they write down (on a separate sheet of paper) what they got wrong and why they got it wrong (reflection). Again, figuring this out with a single Excel sheet for the class is difficult.

Student can only work on one question at a time. They can’t “skip and come back” (good test-taking strategy) nor can they go back if they remembered a previous question. Also, with my Tiered Assessments, students like to see “Okay, what’s worth an A? What’ worth a B? etc.” Here, they’re forced to take it one at a time. I suppose one could argue that this is a good thing, but I don’t think so on these assessments.

If students hit the wrong button (“Submit” too early, or click the wrong answer), because there is no way to go back, then students could get a wrong answer even if they knew how to do it correctly and did it correctly. I got around this by telling them to write on their “work” paper if they did this, and to tell me what the correct answer is, so I can override their accidental entry. However, this is one more thing I have to check when comparing the Excel sheet and the paper.

**Conclusion**

You can decide for yourself whether this would be a good situation or not, but unless I can figure out some better way for students to record more information per question, in a nice mathematical format, I think I’ll be sticking to pen/pencil and paper.

I’ve also asked students to blog about their experience, so we’ll see what they say about that. I’ve already gotten the obligatory “I like this” and “I hate this” responses, so we’ll see how well they can articulate those reactions.

Of course, right as I finished typing the final question, I heard the copier start up across the hall and roll of several dozen sheets without jamming.

I need to start collecting all the awesome things you are doing with the iPad! Always so jealous that you have the class set! I loved this reflection on Socrative, thanks so much for sharing!