Instructions for teachers on how to structure items in SlimStampen in order to benefit optimally from the program.
SlimStampen is designed to improve fact-learning. To ensure effective learning for students, it helps to understand how we define a ‘fact’. In SlimStampen, each fact consists of a cue-answer pair. Examples of cue-answer pairs are: a word and its translation, a picture and its name, or a term and its definition. However, not all presentations of facts benefit from the way SlimStampen operates. This guide has been created to help you gain insight into the kinds of facts that do and do not work well with the way the program functions.
Firstly, it is recommended to include a maximum of 20 facts per lesson. If the amount of facts is too large, it will take a long time for new facts to be introduced. Students then have a difficult time getting to the last facts on the list.
Cues should be as concise as possible. Make sure that fact cues include a similar amount of information (so that one question does not take much longer to read than others). Answers should similarly be concise. For more complex answers, we recommend using the multiple choice format.
Try to avoid questions that include:
Reasoning (Figure 1)
Similar answer options (Figure 2)
Long sentences (Figure 3)
True/false statements (Figure 4).
You can find a more in-depth explanation about these question types on the next pages.
Figure 1.This question assesses reasoning skills rather than factual knowledge. Time needed for thinking will increase response time.
See figure 1 for an example. Questions that require students to engage in reasoning are not suitable for SlimStampen. SlimStampen uses response time as an indicator of how well a student knows a fact. The system assumes that, if a student knows a fact well, they will be able to retrieve it within seconds. Additional time is interpreted as the student needing more time to recall the fact. When a student needs time to think about the question, this time will be interpreted by the system as the student not knowing the fact well enough.
Figure 2.The answer options for this question are very similar, which will lead to long response times. It also encourages students to find the correct answer based on the first word only.
See figure 2 for an example. Similarly to reasoning questions: when students need time to discriminate between details in the answer options, this additional time will be interpreted by the system as the student not knowing the fact well enough.
Figure 3.This question has a very long text as a cue, which increases response time and encourages students to relate the answer to one or two keywords instead of the comprehensive definition
See figure 3 for an example. The use of long sentence cues is not recommended due to their effect on response time measurements. Additionally, long sentences encourage students to learn to recognize one or two keywords and fill in the answer based on these words. This way students only learn the association between the answer and one recognizable part of the question. This cannot always be avoided, as some questions require more text. In this case, try to design your questions with relevant keywords that students should relate the answer to (starting the sentence with a relevant term, for example). The same recommendation holds for lengthy answers, especially in typing questions, For more complex spellings or longer answers, multiple choice is the more appropriate format.
Figure 4.True/false statements with false as the correct answer teach a student nonfacts. This is generally not an efficient learning strategy.
See figure 4 for an example. The correct answer should be the part of the fact that you want students to memorize. SlimStampen is based on the testing effect, which means that practicing to retrieve a fact from memory will make retention for that fact stronger. The correct answer that students have to give is the item that will be strengthened in their memory. In this context, statement cues with the correct answer as ‘false’ (figure 4) are not ideal. Instead of learning facts, students learn non-facts. In this example, students will now remember that the primary role of the prefrontal cortex is not visual processing, but they will not know what the primary role of the prefrontal cortex actually is. There is also a practical problem with true/false questions. SlimStampen will present multiple choice answers in random positions, meaning that the ‘true’ and ‘false’ answers will switch places from time to time. Because students aim to answer quickly, this leads to frequent misclicks. We do not recommend true/false questions for these reasons.
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