Have Clueless Students? Go what? GoFormative!

“Clueless” students

How can you tell if a student is “getting it”? How do you know what concepts have been mastered, and which need to be re-taught? How can you individualize instruction and identify the students that need remediation or extra help? Many teachers would mention various strategies for assessing a student’s understanding: worksheets, tests, quizzes, maybe even projects. (The fancy term for this is assessment: formative being while the student is in the process of learning the information, summative being the end assessment, such as a unit test). The problem with all of these methods is that the data obtained from them takes at least a few minutes (usually more like days or even weeks with our schedules) before we can grade the papers, aka evaluate the results. At that point, if the student has worked an entire worksheet, quiz, or test and answered the majority incorrectly without immediate feedback- they have reinforced incorrect information.  According to this article by Jet Educational Services, “Feedback loops in standardised testing generally suffer from a time delay of several months, whereas formative testing requires almost immediate feedback.”

In addition, students are often afraid to fail. If they are graded on all their assignments, even while they are still learning the material (formative assessment) it creates stress, leading to reluctant or even resistant learners. No one likes to feel like a failure. Using a tool such as goformative.com, with the option to discuss and correct results- as well as the chance to answer incorrectly but then learn from the mistake, increases learning. (See this article from Scientific American about the importance for Getting It Wrong).  Taking away the stigma of getting the answer wrong and giving the students the chance to learn from their mistakes not only aids learning, but it aids teaching by pinpointing misconceptions, and it aids the atmosphere of the classroom by eliminating frustrated and defeated attitudes of the students in response to a categorical grade.

Goformative.com is just what it sounds like- formative assessment on the go.


Not only is it a paperless option, but there is instant feedback (with color-coded percentage results) based on student responses. This gives clarity about each student’s (and the class as a whole) understanding and mastery of specific concepts.  It is also an opportunity to integrate technology, and add an element of fun and novelty. Create and share assessments with your students, and with other teachers. Options include multiple choice, fill in the blank, short answer, and a draw tool (which can be used to label diagrams or create diagrams).

What Sets it Apart

This website allows for more question styles than quizlet, kahoot, or google forms with the option for drawing. For example, I’ve copied and pasted diagrams such as a water molecule and asked students to label certain features (such as the positive or negative end of the water molecules). The students love getting to use the draw tool, and it’s a way for me to check that they understand the material well enough to apply it and create a diagram themselves.


When the students begin, the teacher can click on the “Live Results” option to view their answers while they are working (which is not an option on quizlet or google forms). The screen displays all the student’s answers on one screen for each question. The percentage bar displays (in real-time), in red and green, the percentage of correct and incorrect student responses.

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 10.00.12 PM

If you click on a student’s responses on a diagram or short answer question, it is possible to slide the bar above the question on a sliding scale from green to red depending on the correctness and thoroughness of their answer. I have not seen this “sliding scale” grading with other formative apps. If the student is logged in (and not a guest using a quick join code) it is also possible to click on their response and make comments that the student can view on their screen while they are working.  It is also an option to click on the arrow beside a student response and delete the response (in case there is an inappropriate response or they just need to completely start over).

Putting it to Work in the Classroom

From the home screen, it is simple to add assignments and organize assignments into folders. Adding questions is simple and user friendly.

edit, assign

Classes can be created using a join code that students enter after they create a log in (which can be done quickly by logging in with google, if the school is using google accounts). The join code for each class is visible under the “classes” tab on the home screen. Quizzes can be assigned to a class so that when students log in the assigned quiz automatically shows on their assignment list.Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 10.05.04 PM
The quicker option is to display a join code for that particular quiz at goformative.com/join. This bypasses the requirement of logging in (but disables the comments feature). To access the quick code, click on the blue and green bars beside the assigquick join codenment and choose “assign”. Under the “Everyone” tab the join code will be displayed on the right side of the screen in purple letters. This is also the area where you can change the public or private settings, get links, assign to google classroom, etc. To assign to specific classes, click the “only classes” tab.


With the assignment open, there is an option to view the assignment responses as a summary or individual questions. The summary option shows a list of the individual students’ grades as well as color coded individual answers for a quick reference to see if the majority of the class missed a particular question. You can filter one class at a time, or view all the classes’ answers together. It is also possible to export the assignment scores and upload them directly to your gradebook (in csv format).

summary screen



Customer service on this site is amazing. After a few minutes of working on the site, a chat box will occasionally pop up with a live customer service rep available to answer questions and give helpful tips.

Goformative is a WONDERFUL resource.  As a tool to gain immediate insight into students’ understanding and make their thinking visible, it is one of the best free options I have used. The students enjoyed using it, it is very user friendly to work with, and the options put the data you need at your fingertips, in real-time.  Double thumbs up- try it!


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