How Advisers Can Use Sign-In Forms to Collect Data

Jordan Kuneyl is a second-year adviser with the Texas A&M Advising Corps. He serves at Duncanville High School in Duncanville, Texas, outside of Dallas.

Here are his tips on using an electronic sign-in form to help input interactions into GRACE more efficiently.

I still remember my first day of summer training when I received information about my high school. I learned two key things: Duncanville’s senior class had over 1,000 students – and it was vital for me to meet with all of them one-on-one to gain college advising results. To top it all off, I would then need to make sure I collected and recorded all that data in GRACE.

The data collection and analysis piece, which is so important for our success, also takes a lot of time. It is all too easy to spend hours per day inputting data. And we cannot be rid of the data piece of the job. After all, it is the proof of our students’ achievements. So how do we gain back some of this time? By becoming more efficient!

Efficient data collection and input is a challenge. Today I am going to talk you through a specific technique I use: creating an electronic sign-in form for interactions. I do this because:

  • This makes the students “use our language” by allowing us to control what answers a student can use. More on this later!
  • Electronic copies can be accessed via cloud storage from any location and manipulated at will! No need to keep track of dozens of sheets of paper.
  • Analytics on how many students have signed in, how often, and when are available at a glance without any additional work on the adviser’s part.
  • Quicker access to my data allows me to make greater use of GRACE. Using data to target specific populations is the best way to make rapid progress!
  • Creating a culture of signing in ensures that you will always have the data you need to produce an accurate picture of college access at your school.

How do I do this? Google Forms! In my experience, Google Forms is the easiest platform to use. It is free and accessible from anywhere. The first step is to identify what you need to make the form for. My sign-in form looks like this:

A few key tips to take away from this page:

  • Only ask for vital information. Too many fields makes your form look cluttered or confusing.
  • For multiple choice questions (such as grade level), choose the option that shuffles the answer order. This ensures that students must be actively engaged to fill the form out correctly.
  • Make answers required. Optional means it won’t be done!

After a student chooses who they are there to see, the form redirects them to a page based on their response:

Students can select one or multiple responses as to why they have come to the college center today. A few tips off of this page:

  • You’ll see the fields are similar to the options under “topics” in GRACE. This is intentional. This will make updating GRACE simpler!
  • The “other” field! This can be a double-edged sword. Keep in mind that a student could potentially select other and put gibberish making your job more challenging.
  • Try to keep forms to two or three pages. Any longer and students may get overwhelmed.

Now: We have this great sign-in sheet. How do we get it to students? At Duncanville, we have a dedicated computer for sign-ins. If you aren’t able to get a computer for this, here are some other ideas:

  • Post QR codes and put it out for the students to scan with their phone. They can sign-in from there!
  • Leave it open on each computer in your college center for students to use before they begin working.
  • Have it open on your computer and have the student fill it out before you begin your advising session.

Always keep a paper copy of the sign-in sheet for students to use should you run into technology problems!

Below is what the output looks like! Here we have “Bob Swift,” who signed in several times. We can see a timestamp of exactly when Bob signed in, who he wanted to talk to, and what Bob is here to speak about.

My last few tips here focus on the effective use of the output:

  • The find function is your friend! Control + F will save you a lot of time. Have a teacher who wants to know if a student was with you? No problem! Quickly use the find function to search their name and you’ll know in seconds.
  • Find a method to mark what has been tracked. I like to highlight the lines I have tracked so that it is clear what has not been tracked.

How else can you use Google Forms? Here are some examples:

  • Make a self-reporting form where students can upload pictures of acceptances or scholarships! You can do this using the file upload feature.
  • Make a sign-up sheet for all sorts of events. Because it is electronic, you can send it straight to students’ phones via Remind or a similar texting application like GRACE SMS.
  • Track your SAT & ACT fee waivers on a sheet. That way, when someone (inevitably) loses their code, you can search it on the form! This saves you from rifling through files!

Best of luck on the school year, and I hope you can find a use for this form of electronic data gathering in your college center!