No more “failed quiz attempts”

When we first started running Yacapaca, students discovered that they could use the Back button to try each question as many times as there were options, and thus gain a perfect score without needing to pay any attention to the content. This resulted in an invalid assessment and zero learning, so we had to block it. The only way to do this at the time was to program Flash so that the Back button would exit the quiz altogether.

This in turn created a need for a feature by which the teacher could ‘forgive’ this behaviour and permit an additional attempt. An unsatisfactory situation all round, but the best that could be done with the technology of the time.

Finally, this has changed. Faster and more reliable school networks now allow us to serve the data in a different way, so that an interrupted quiz attempt can be picked up again exactly where it left off.

Hence, the old ‘additional attempt’ functionality is redundant and will be removed. In its place we have…


Students returning to a quiz will see “/continuation of the interrupted attempt/” and will be able to simply keep going. This works on both Flash and mobile versions of Yacapaca.

October 2015 authoring online CPD


The course runs through a student account on Yacapaca, which you can sign up for at the end of this post. It uses some features you will be familiar with, and some that are not available to general users. It takes about 15 minutes per day of your time.


Unsurprisingly, I teach using the same philosophy I embedded into Yacapaca. Learning is your responsibility; my job is to provide the structure. In this case that includes pointers to useful content, collaborative activities and Continue reading

John Hattie’s top three influences on student achievement: you already do at least two of them.

John Hattie is the educational guru du jour, and with good reason. He has the research on his side. If you have not seen his graded list of 138 Influences on Student Achievement, the whole thing is here. Expect to find his Visible Learning on your CPD menu for the coming year.

I want to focus on just the top three.


I will be the first to admit that Piaget and Yacapaca don’t really have a lot to say to each other, but let’s look at the other two.

Self-reported grades

Hattie says

Self reported grades comes out at the top of all influences. Children are the most accurate when predicting how they will perform…. Once a student has performed at a level that is beyond their own expectations, he or she gains confidence in his or her learning ability.

…and here is how Yacapaca implements it

At the start of each quiz, we ask students to predict their scores. After the quiz is over, we reward them with badge points, not for a high or a low score, but for the accuracy of their predictions. In this way we encourage students to really own a realistic expectation of their own ability, on which they can then build. We call it ‘self-calibration’ and you can read a fuller description here.


The smaller the difference between the red and green bars, the higher the reward.

Providing formative evaluation

Hattie says

…formative evaluation refers to any activity used as an assessment of learning progress before or during the learning process itself.

[I’m not quite sure why he does not call it formative assessment, the word he uses in his glossary]

…and here is how Yacapaca implements it

After each question, students are shown several feedback statements and asked to vote for the best one. Voting achieves two things: it actively engages the student in evaluating the feedback statement itself, and it helps us eliminate weak feedback statements and present more useful ones. The statements themselves are written by students, and moderated before being presented for voting. More background here, and how to view your students’ statements here.

Option C is a dilly. Does the student who wrote that even realise they are using metaphor? So many possibilities here to take e-safety way beyond a set of commandments to be rote-learned and subsequently ignored.

Option C is a dilly. Does the student who wrote that even realise they are using metaphor? So many possibilities here to take e-safety way beyond a set of commandments to be rote-learned and subsequently ignored.


Hattie lists 42 interventions with an effect size greater than 0.5. Yacapaca can fairly claim to make a significant contribution to 11 of them. For most of these, and certainly the top two, these are built-in features of Yacapaca. There is nothing additional you need to do, other than brag that you have been there all along when the subject of Hattie inevitably comes up in conversation.

Copyright misconceptions

copyright distortSometimes kids get hold of the wrong end of the stick en masse. A great example is copyrightthe right to copy. A quick sampling of students’ peer feedback statements reveals that approx. 50% of statements that mention copyright see it as some kind of a crime. Here’s a quick sampler of the 20+ most recent examples:

  1. It is copying someones work and is illegal and this is called copyright.
  2. Because copyright is an act of Continue reading

Assessment is sampling, and this has consequences


The structure of knowledge is a complex thing. Very rarely can it be codified as a simple set of statements. There are facts, yes, but also links, opinions, metaphors, context, images (both mental and physical) and much more to boot. Exam boards put enormous effort into trying to distinguish between those students who have ‘got it’ and those who have not. As a teacher setting a low-stakes assessment, you find yourself trying to second-guess the exam board.

So how does the exam board go about it? They cannot test everything that has been learned over the course of two years, so they sample. They ask a range of questions that taken together should give a reasonably accurate view of the overall attainment of the student.

The same is true when you set a low-stakes assessment such as an end-of-topic quiz. Even if you Continue reading