Real Life Stories
I May Never Correct an Irregular Verb Again!
I may never correct an irregular verb quiz again. Ever! I set up a group of exercises using the DecClic 2 platform, and I couldn't be happier about it. Students log on to their personal account, practice however many times they want, look at the correction, see what they're doing wrong, and then, a few weeks later, the class and I walk into a computer lab for the quiz. The whole process is simple, effective and rewarding because ‘Lo and behold!' they improve.
There is however a learning curve involved in using DecClic 2 effectively. I remember how stressful it was the first time I brought my students in for a diagnostic test on the first day of class. I thought it might be better to test the system early on before I invested too much time and energy into it. It was nerve-wracking waiting to see what problems I would have to resolve during that first meeting.
Exam Studio page on DECclic
As students access DECclic for the first time, they need to log on with their student number information, create an account and so on. This implied an awful lot of going back and forth and trouble-shooting with students. By and large, though, I would say now that students not only do this part well, thanks in part to a revised tutorial paper hand out, but that they are often ready and rearing to go within the first ten minutes. And, I now make DECclic available at the very beginning of semester.
After creating a general Diagnostic Quiz on Exam Studio, an adapted version of the quiz we were already using at the department, I made another test to practice irregular verbs. It works like this: I give a verb and the student fills in the infinitive, past and past participle version of the irregular verb. Although seemingly basic, the exercise's first results for many students, even advanced students, revealed that they were still struggling with this topic. This was a shock for the teacher but also a shock for the student who had often never received proper systematic correction and feedback. This is completely understandable given that with 4 to 5 classrooms of 35 students, correcting roughly 200 irregular verbs repeatedly and systematically is brutally monotonous. I prefer in-class discussions myself!
Don't waste any time creating questionnaires and quizzes and demonstrations on platforms where the results and student performance cannot be accessed by the teacher.
Don't waste any time creating questionnaires and quizzes and demonstrations on platforms where the results and student performance cannot be accessed by the teacher. The students won't want to invest in something the teacher cannot assess, and you will lose sight of your students' achievements. It's a lose-lose situation!
Spending time on other quiz making software that is not linked to a database is also a waste. With DECclic, both you and the student can actually see their results and pinpoint their difficulties as well as their improvements. You can also find out when they access their practices which is often just a few hours before the exams! Exam Studio, as far as I can tell, is the only useful platform for practicing English structures because it is linked to a database.
Developing your own questionnaires with Exam Studio involves acquiring a new set of skills. You need to see your questionnaires from the student's perspective and test you own quizzes. This can be tedious. I recommend setting yourself some simple goals at first and making sure you find a repetitive, systematic and very focused set of questions to begin. Irregular verbs are attractive in this regard because you gain a lot of experience just by creating this first questionnaire.
They love it even though this method is unyielding and well, in all fairness, a bit colder than the traditional written exam
Once the basic irregular verbs are in the questionnaire, here are a few things you can do. You can make the questions random and you can select just a small number of verbs. At quiz time, each student receives his or her own random, say, ten verb selection. You can delete the verbs you feel students have mastered in order to focus on the ones they have more difficulty with.
How do students react to this? Incredibly, students love it. They love it even though this method is unyielding and well, in all fairness, a bit colder than the traditional written exam (I add colors to the background but...). Students seem to feel it is fairer, gives a concrete and unquestionable assessment of their performance (at least for one limited aspect of linguistic fluency) and finally, as they improve, they can directly point to and quantify their improvement. It does seem like a win-win situation. I for one couldn't live without it any more. And, my students are becoming irregular verb experts!