I’ve been using ItsLearning as much as I can this year for my assessments, partly as part of my paperless initiative, partly to save time grading; it seems like we as a school are committed to ItsLearning, so even assessments I had in other e-formats / platforms I’ve been converting this year to ItsLearning. In most classes, these assessments are either open-ended (short or long essays) or a few objective quizzes (periodic reading quizzes). But in my Latin 3/4/5 class ItsLearning quizzes comprise the bulk of the class’ assessments.

The Latin 3/4/5 class has been worrying me, not so much because they’re grades are lower than I think they should be but because I’m getting the sense that they see or are beginning to see a disconnect between the work that they do and their performance on assessments; that’s a connection I have to draw more precisely. But they have also been saying that they don’t like the ItsLearning quizzes, that they find them too stressful and they feel they do worse on them than they should (which their grades bear out). A colleague of mine in the history department (EL) was saying that she herself likes to manipulate the distractors of a multiple choice assessment, i.e. she likes to cross out the wrong ones, which is of course is either impossible or more trouble than its worth on a computer. With all of this in mind, for our last quiz of the quarter today I decided to go back to the eggs.

The eggs are Promethean’s ActivExpression system (so called by me / us because their previous incarnation, the ActivVote system, looked like an egg; the new system does not but I transferred the term), my first foray into e-assessment. I decided to return to them partly because I didn’t feel like converting the quiz but more because I wanted to see if there was at least an affective disparity between taking a quiz on ItsLearning (which we had been doing) and taking a quiz on the eggs. I would have some data, but it would be imprecise at best; nonetheless, my non-statistician mind was ok with that as well.

The eggs were a huge success. Students did very well on the quiz, part of which is that it’s part of our mid-term review and the concept was a pretty basic one. But I asked them about it after class, and they pointed out the affective factors of the eggs. The eggs allow socialization between questions. Because everyone needs to answer before moving on, there is some down time (unless you’re the last one to answer) between questions. Students appreciated this on a basic level but also found it very relaxing. They also like the question-by-question immediate feedback rather than finding out at the end.

The downside to the eggs are that they are inefficient. The quiz today on ItsLearning would probably take the half time; waiting for everyone to answer before moving on can be time consuming. So the real question becomes is it worth it? Are the downsides to the eggs (efficiency and somewhat cumbersome creation interface) worth the upside (the affective effect of the eggs on students during quizzes)? I don’t have an answer to that. What about you?