Timed questions help students get in ‘flow’

It all started one warm Friday afternoon about 12 years ago. I was observing a Y10 class in a fairly typical mainstream secondary school. They were taking a test using Paperless School, a now-defunct system that I had designed.

One pair of boys particularly caught my attention. They were lolling back in their chairs, chatting about snooker and doing their absolute adolescent damnedest to project a “too cool for school” attitude. Once in a while they would click on an answer on the screen so they could lay some vague claim to still being working.

Engaged with the task they were not.

Realisation slowly dawned that, as system designer, this was my fault. I had to take responsibility for Continue reading

A wee note for authors about time and information

timeWhen writing any part of a question, please think about timeframe, and the student’s perception of time. In the case of a feedback statement, you have perhaps 10-20s during which the student can remain focused on the current question and the issue of “why did I just get that wrong”?

In this time, you can hit them with one boldly-presented point, and there is a good chance it will sink right into their brain. At this point, students will not pause to read a discursive argument, nor will they follow a link, or even note it down for future reference.

The place to put more detailed arguments (your own or links to resources elsewhere) is into a reference sheet that can be downloaded and studied between the first and second quiz runs. You could attach this file to the quiz where students can download it directly, or to the course, where the teacher can control exactly when it is seen by students.