Google Forms and Spreadsheets—Fun Times with Data Collection!

Data and information collecting isn’t the most glamorous subject; however, with the influx of iPads into my school setting, and the increasing popularity of Google spreadsheets and forms, data collection has become a hot topic among the SLPs in our school system!

Several of us have embraced using Google forms and spreadsheets to make our data collecting lives border on fun.  Before Google, my folders for kids were full of sticky notes, therapy data forms, attendance forms, and other assorted loose items.    Now, progress report time is cleaner and more data oriented, because much of what I need has been systematically collected by Google forms into the spreadsheets. (There is a spreadsheet for every form.)

 This is a brief description of various ways I currently use the forms and spreadsheets in practice–click the thumbnails for full-sized versions of the examples below.  A tutorial link for creating your own Google forms is provided at the end.

1.  Recording data and notes from a therapy session with a student. 
There is still a spot for sticky notes, and recording tallies on paper to achieve percentages, but most often, the main part of my sessions with students is recorded on a Google Form.

portion of a form


For each of my students, I have created a Google form based on the student’s IEP goals and objectives.  At the end of the session, I can quickly fill out the form (either on the iPad, or on the computer) recording notes and data instantly.

summary of responses screenshot


The data entered on the form is compiled by Google Docs in to a spreadsheet, and a summary of responses can also be done through Google.

sample spreadsheet of student data

2.  Taking Daily Attendance

Portion of my daily attendance form

We all know in the school setting why it’s important to keep track of how many times a speech student was seen per reporting period, and why sessions were missed.  I used to keep attendance on paper, then progressed to an Excel spreadsheet.  Lately, I’ve been taking attendance on a daily Google form which sends all of the information into a spreadsheet stored in Google Docs.  It’s very manageable!

3.  Recording and Sharing Hearing Screening Results

This is an area that came to me one day when I was scratching out hearing screening information on a piece of paper.  A year ago, a group of us in the school began typing into a shared document all of our screening information. I’ve since developed a Google Form that I can use while I’m screening a child. I usually have an iPad at my side as I’m screening with this form on the screen. (I just tap the results in as I go).  The results are instantly sent to the shared Google Doc—no need for a pencil!

4.  CFY Supervision

This year, I’ve had the opportunity to supervise a wonderful new Clinical Fellow.  I know that she will sail through this year with flying colors, but to be fair to her, and to adequately do my job as her supervisor, I have to observe for an allotted amount of time, and monitor her activities as prescribed by both the North Carolina State Board of Examiners, and by ASHA.  I’ve created a Google Form for observations, which throws all of my observation data into a spreadsheet which I’ve shared with her online.   This transparent online record-keeping has been helpful for both of us!

5.  Weekly written feedback to a graduate intern

Part of the form


I am fortunate in that I work at an elementary school close to a major university that has a top-notch graduate program, so I usually supervise two students during the course of a year.    We have been asked to provide weekly written feedback which is extra work to my paperwork mountain—except that I created a Google form for providing such feedback.  My grad student and I filled it out together every Friday last year, and all of the data was collected in a shared spreadsheet.    The forms are nice in that they clearly defined expectations, and also allowed for some anecdotal feedback.  At the end was a section for the two of us to write a short term goal for the coming week.

Nothing will totally replace all note-taking, and there is a place for hand-written data still in my office.  These are just a few ways I have used technology to make my life run a bit more efficiently. I have loved the ‘sharing’ aspect of Google Docs—so for example, if several adults are working on the same goals for a student, they all can send their data using the same shared form to the shared spreadsheet.

For a tutorial on creating your own forms, go to this page.

I’m sure there are countless other ways to use these in a speech therapy setting and that we (as a profession) are only at the beginning of using technology more effectively in our practice. Comment if you have ideas for further uses for Google forms in speech therapy, or would like to see a specific Google form topic addressed.

(This post originally appeared on Chapel Hill Snippets)


Ruth Morgan is a speech-language pathologist who works for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools at Ephesus Elementary School.  She loves her job and enjoys writing about innovative ways to use the iPad in therapy, gluten-free cooking, and geocaching adventures.  Visit her blog at


  1. says

    This is an awesome post. It’s a great and relatively simple way to collect data. I loved the fact that you’ve included a play by play tutorial, it made things very clear. This just shows that you don’t have to have expensive software in order to engage in detailed data collection.

  2. Marianne Mount says

    Thank you for taking the time for sharing this. These ideas are so organized they will be helpful to many people. This is an amazing find. Keep writing Ruth.

  3. Kara VanHooser says

    Ruth, I’m glad you included a link to your Chapel Hill Snippets blog because I’ve learned a lot from it. I especially appreciate the items related to adapting apps for special populations.

  4. ruth morgan says

    Hi, I’m the author of this blog. Several people have asked about confidentiality in terms of google docs and iPads—a great question. I didn’t mention in the blog that all of the forms are created in our school system’s gmail. Our school has gone almost completely to gmail and this includes google docs, calendars, and emails. There is a lot of confidential stuff that happens here—-which is why it’s 100% important to have a secure password. Google forms that are saved on an iPad screen should require a password.

  5. CMF-SLP says

    I’m all for data collection and agree that it’s really important . This is a great tutorial and I’m definitely going to be using these approaches to eliminate the mosaic of sticky notes all over my desk ( or at least limit it)!

    But…I also have to remember that what I am doing everyday is teaching, not testing. How critical is it that I record that a student gave 34% correct responses this session and 35% correct responses the previous session? Does that mean that I’m not effective, targeted, or using the correct approach, prompts, modifications or the thousand other intangible, unmeasurable aspects of the therapy process? Therapy and teaching are difficult precisely because of all those intangible, human factors .

    Plus, I can’t help but comment on what kind of impression you are giving a student when their every response is met by a pause and a pencil mark or key stroke. Poor pragmatics indeed!

    • Ruth Morgan says

      I’m the author of this blog. I certainly hope that I didn’t give the impression that I was taking data every second of every session. Quite the contrary! Most of my Google forms, I fill out after the session is complete. If there are discreet trials (artic or language), I record data on the first 10 responses, then I teach. Most of my sessions involve teaching and therapy; however, in this day and age, therapy notes, progress monitoring, and evidence based practice are important, and it’s important to document it some empirical way (but no need to digitize every minute.)

  6. Deborah L. Bennett says

    Would you be willing to share your documents as templates? I use GoogleDocs spreadsheets for a non-SLP purpose, and collaborated on creating some customized forms and spreadsheets with another user in Belgium (over 20,000 fields!). We then copied our forms, cleared all the fields, saved them with new names as templates, and made them available via a blog/Wiki post to a specific audience that was working on the same project, around the world. For some documents, we made them open to anyone (although nobody would be likely to find them without specific interest in the project content), and others we made available only to those with a link, which they could request from us via the blog. Users simply copy and rename the template for their own use. So far, many people have benefitted from our work, and we have not had any problems with users ‘messing up’ the template. Work on this project worldwide has potentially become much more efficient because of the ease of sharing forms via GoogleDocs.

    I would like to make a bunch of the forms you show here. I can see how they could be terrific timesavers in my practice. But — it would be so much quicker to start from a template. I can envision your templates as showing your existing sample IEP goals, attendance choices, etc., as you illustrate here, without any identifying information. Then users could change those fields and customize as necessary rather than setting each page up from scratch. What do you think?

    Deborah L. Bennett MS CCC-SLP
    Monadnock Speech & Language
    Keene, NH

  7. says

    Nice post though I still have issues when it comes to certain functionality and features on Google docs. Meanwhile there are quite a few tools which are creating a lot of buzz when it comes to sharing and collaboration of data. One such tool that I came across is CollateBox: .

      • Ruth says

        Hi, Good question……..all Google docs can be password protected. The more secure your password, the better off it is. In addition, if you still don’t feel comfortable with this, you can identify the client or child by an encoded name (the first two letters of the first name followed by the first two letters of the last name), or by a number. If you are using a tablet to access your Google docs, make sure the password is set for the document itself, and you can password protect the entire tablet. I don’t use my personal gmail for these documents, but use the school system gmail and server. In my opinion, using this server for my documents is more secure than stacks of working paper documents, files, and folders in my office. Although school EC files are kept in a secure place, often SLP working folders are not from what I’ve observed–particularly if SLPs travel from school to school.

        • Sam says

          My Early Intervention program also uses Google for everything, and it concerns me because Google specifically states the info is not protected to HIPAA compliant standards. Regardless of the endpoint password you put in, there are many other nodes of access which are not well enough protected to comply.

          While you may think your documents are secure, they are not. Not only are they not secure but they are insecure to millions of people who can gain access as opposed to the few hundred to whom most SLP files might be insecure. When you see kids info in a Google based account, you should view it in the same way as a folder left on a park bench which millions of people walk by and can look in.

          Even aside from the data security, I worry that all of this info on my kids is used by Google to compile databases of their lives, which we grant them permission to do by using the tools they offer us. They’re a data mining company, that’s what they do, and they readily admit that they mine people’s personal emails for possible advertising keywords, as well as to develop profiles of people.

          Don’t get me wrong I love the idea, I just think we all need to demand that Google only offer HIPAA compliant systems to schools.

          • ruth morgan says

            Great comment, and of course you are right. The trouble in a school setting is that nothing is secure. Our Connect 2 School website (not Google) is regularly hacked by high schoolers; and any online system really can be accessed by an experienced person with the right software–credit cards, iTunes, government sites, etc.. If a person is really feeling insecure about Google, you do not have to identify the child by his or her full name in your therapy notes; encode it, and keep all of the identifying information in a paper document if that makes you feel the information is safer. You can print out all the notes you have typed in the form, and staple it all to your paper documents–that’s what I do. I use Google forms for note-writing–it’s faster and more accurate. It’s lengthier since I type better than I write. Information can be compiled into graphs and spreadsheets. Identifying information (name, birthdays, medicaid numbers, etc) can be kept in a more secure setting.

  8. Joe sEBASTIAN says

    Hi, thanks for the post. Is there anyway to pre-fill a form from a spreadsheet or database? I feel like the Google form is pretty static. I want to create dynamic forms which auto populates the forms with data that resides in the spreadsheet or the database. Is it possible?