Google Forms: Not (Survey)Monkeying Around!

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In recent years, Google Drive has increasingly provided intuitive, collaborative, and functional alternatives to more familiar software programs, including Google Forms, their answer to research-inquiry tools like SurveyMonkey. If you’re reluctant to make the switch, here are some tips that may just make you a convert!

Customizations
When you’re editing a form, the icons on the top right hand side of the screen allow you to adjust and personalize the form to meet your needs:
  • Click the Color Palette to change the general color scheme. Selecting the last palette option (an image icon) will give you more choices as well as the option to upload your own header. Whether you upload something from the Extension Image Gallery or select an applicable Google-generated theme, glamming up your questionnaire can improve the user experience and even add some sophisticated flair to an otherwise run-of-the-mill survey!
  • Clicking the eye symbol will open a new tab to give you a sneak peek of the form from the perspective of a prospective respondent. Definitely take advantage of this tool throughout the process of building your form to avoid mistakes that might jeopardize your results.
  • The gear symbol opens up a variety of unique adjustable options, some of which are crucial depending on the purpose of your form. For example, if it is not meant to be a blind survey but rather the answers must match up with the name of the respondent, be sure to select “Collect email address” under the “General” tab. The “Quizzes” tab will also allow you to treat the form as a test. These are great options to use in situations where you are evaluating student progress as you are able to collect responses, monitor when submissions are made, and have Google Forms automatically assign grades.

Progressive Questioning
A great feature that can be utilized when generating definitive responses using “Dropdown” or “Multiple Choice” questions is exemplified on the Extension Technology Purchasing Program form you receive when your work computer warranty expires. The first question of that form prompts you to select a “Laptop” or a “Desktop,” and your response signals the form to move to a section specifically asking follow-up questions based on your original selection. Rather than having you figure out which accessories apply to a laptop versus a desktop, you are presented only with relevant options. This feature allows you to design your questionnaire with a progressive flow, with the potential to generate more comprehensive evaluation and create a more personalized user experience. While SurveyMonkey also offers this feature, it is only available in the paid versions. Google Form, however, offers this feature for free!


To create progressive questioning, you must first separate questions into sections by selecting the last question box before you would like a page jump, then pushing the icon that resembles a thick equal sign (“Add section”) at the bottom of the vertical menu to the right of the box. When “Go to section based on answer” is selected, drop down menus will appear beside the different answers and you may select which section should follow each selection.

Response/Data Collection
Once you've previewed your form and feel confident that everything is ready to send, there's a massive "SEND" button in the top right corner that will bring up plenty of self-explanatory options. One great feature here is the ability to select "Include form in email." If you have separate sections, only the first section question(s) will appear in the body of the email. Submitting responses from the first section will open another tab to continue the questionnaire.

At the top of the form body, you will see "Questions" and "Responses." The "Responses" view allows you to visualize data derived from responses, send reminders to those that have not submitted responses, and download responses into an organized spreadsheet. While creating a spreadsheet using Google Sheets will allow answers to continue to populate, be aware that downloading the responses to an Excel spreadsheet will only capture a snapshot of the responses at the time of downloading.

More Information
In case you’re still unconvinced, or perhaps you’re intimidated by the idea of learning a new tool, Google has some great information and a Help Center to ease the transition!

Have you used Google Forms, and if so - how? Any tips for making more dynamic questionnaires? Any requests for future, more in-depth Google Forms posts? Leave a comment and let us know!

4 comments:

  1. What do you see as Google Forms' advantage(s) over Qualtrics?

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    1. Hi Hannah! Thanks for your question. I definitely think that Qualtrics is the superior survey tool, and it meets the University's information security standards which makes it the right choice for anything sensitive. However, I still think Google Forms is a great, *free*, and simple tool for smaller scale surveys. We wanted to include it on the blog since it's gaining popularity...some of our student employees even had assignments and quizzes through Google Forms in high school! So, while I think Qualtrics is arguably the better tool, it's still important to be aware of/familiar with other forms of technology available to us.

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    2. Hi! I'll also add that Google Forms is much easier for basic, visual reporting. And, I found some interesting information on ways to integrate other google tools (like sheets, calendar, and analytics) with Google Forms, so I'd be interested to learn if anyone in Extension is utilizing this functionality. Here's the site where I learned about the integrations: https://www.formstack.com/blog/2015/best-google-apps-integrations/

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    3. Thanks for the additional context, Stephanie and Alison!

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