observeOne of my roles as an instructional coach involves the collection of student feedback to inform teaching practices. Recently, the Stop, Start, Continue, or Stoplight (Humber College, 2015), method of data collection has been in demand. I have assisted a few colleagues in the collection of such student feedback, and I have learned more about this entry point into the coaching cycle along the way (EL Education, 2015).


I used Humber College’s original Stoplight as a handout with my first groups of middle school students. As I waited for the students to work through the form I noticed that many were stuck on the first field relating to what they thought their teacher should stop. Later, once I had manually entered 133 rows of Stop, Start, Continue into a Google Sheet, I decided that there must be a more efficient method to collect such data for it to be readily useful. I was determined to find it and, in so doing, to switch the order of the questions so that the great things that were already happening in the classroom could be praised via ‘continue.’ My life as an instructional coach would be easier, both because I didn’t have to manually digitize tomes of text-based data, and because the students would no longer be at a loss as to what to write in the first field. A Continue, Start, Stop Google Form was born.

I used this Google Form with my second groups of middle school students. There were very few questions from the students about how to complete the form, making it easier for them to get into a state of flow. I was also thrilled to avoid the need to digitize up to two ideas per question per student with this cohort of 102 students!

Next, I worried that data analysis could prove challenging with such a quantity of data. At first I used what I knew, Conditional Formatting, to make some high-use terms stand out in various colors. What I really wanted was a way to count these terms to generate frequency data and to find any central tendencies: What did most of the students think? I began to explore the Google Sheet options and found the expression COUNTIF. As I continued to change the formula I discovered


This specific expression counts all of the occurrences of the root word ‘engag’ in the range spanning from cell A2 to cell B50. The dollar signs keep this range reference static if the formula cell is copied to other cells. In this way, I had only to change the term between the asterisk from cell to cell. You can see the results of both the conditional formatting and COUNTIF on my own student feedback data from Biology 12 in May 2016.


EL Education. (2015). Coaching for Change: Teacher-centered Coaching. Professional Learning Packs. Accessed at http://plp.eleducation.org/teacher-centered-coaching/ on December 12, 2016.

Humber College. (2015). Teaching Methods: Stop, Start, Continue. The Center for Teaching and Learning. Accessed at http://www.humber.ca/centreforteachingandlearning/instructional-strategies/teaching-methods/classroom-strategies-designing-instruction/activities-and-games/stop-start-continue.html on December 13, 2016.