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Giving learners a second chance to answer

To encourage students to see mistakes as learning opportunities, Siyavula has introduced second chance to answer.

By Ros Clayton
on June 19 2019
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Learn from your mistakes
Learn from your mistakes

ar130405, https://pixabay.com/users/ar130405-423602/

Siyavula's primary goal is to improve learning outcomes for all of our students. Research shows that making mistakes presents powerful learning opportunities, yet many learners are afraid of making mistakes and experience them as something negative. To encourage students to see mistakes as learning opportunities, Siyavula has introduced second chance to answer.

What is second chance to answer?

The first time a learner makes a mistake on a question, second chance to answer simply prompts the learner that they are incorrect, and gives them a second chance to submit the answer to the question. The correct answer is not provided at this stage. Knowing that they will be given a second chance reduces feelings of stress and fear when learners answer questions. Furthermore, if a learner can return to their working and figure out where they went wrong on their own, they will learn far more than what they would from simply being provided with the answer. The worked solution is provided if they get the question wrong on the second try.

Prompt to try again

A secondary benefit of second chance to answer is that it helps learners to catch mistakes in their typed answers. Online learning platforms like Siyavula Practice offer many benefits, from instant feedback to questions that are tailored to each individual's ideal learning trajectory. There are also challenges to online learning, and one of the big challenges is allowing learners to submit answers that include complicated algebra, where typos are common and the method of input needs to follow a very specific format. Through second chance to answer, learners have the opportunity to take a second look at their answer, read the instruction again, and potentially correct any typing errors.

Analysis of impact

The impact of second chance to answer has been very positive. The following table summarises the percentage of incorrect answers that were corrected, as well as the percentage of users who have corrected at least one answer. These measures are shown for all users, as well as for the subset of users who have answered at least 100 questions since second chance to answer was released.

Table of results

Considering all users, learners were able to self-correct 16% of all incorrect answers. This is very encouraging, given that the source of the problem could be conceptual, computational, or related to typing inputs, and the only prompt was that the answer was incorrect. Furthermore, 39% of all learners using Siyavula Practice succeeded in correcting at least one answer, indicating a diffuse learning benefit for many learners.

Users who have answered at least 100 questions self-correct 19% of the time, and 95% of them have corrected their answer at least once. The higher correction rate in the highly active group (19% compared to 16% for all users) could indicate that learners improve in their self-correction abilities with practice, which would be an intriguing result. It is also possible that learners who go on to complete at least 100 questions are better at correcting their answers.

To address this question, we investigated, for users who have answered at least 100 questions, the correction rate for the first 50 and second 50 questions. The correction rate for the first 50 questions was found to be 16%; the same as the correction rate for all users. The correction rate for the second 50 questions was 18%, thereby indicating that these learners had improved their ability to self-correct through a very simple prompt.

With second chance to answer, and other features like it, we are continually improving our product to provide better learning experiences for our users.

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