Engaging Students in STEM: PlayPosit Analytics to Support Continuous Improvement

The Pinch Point: Lack of Low-Stakes Pulse-Checks

Often, we may not know how our students are really doing until it’s too late to turn things around: packed pre-exam office hours, a slurry of pressing emails the night before the assignment is due, or unexpectedly low exam scores. It becomes clear during these moments that important topics are being misunderstood; students are struggling with accountability, and commonly missed problems could have been avoided with a nudge in a certain direction.

Although sometimes disappointing, the information on student progress can help you create data-informed interventions to meet learners where they are at. Unfortunately, this information is often only collected after an exam or project and usually requires extra grading on behalf of the instructor. Knowing what students need may come too late to help learners before they are discouraged by poor performance on an exam or project. This may be familiar for instructors who teach asynchronous courses, where student-instructor interaction is limited without carefully designed built-in pulse checks. 

This pinch point is especially relevant at CSUCI, where we are committed to channeling our students’ success and meeting them at their readiness level. How can we get the information needed to adapt our instructional strategies to help students succeed before they take that exam?

The Solution: PlayPosit 

By using PlayPosit to convert existing readings and lectures into interactive documents and interactive videos embedded with pulse-checking questions, instructors gain the powerful tool of automated analytics, gauging how students are doing before they even start studying for the test without additional grading.

With PlayPosit’s detailed analytics, you can spot commonly missed question types in a low-stakes way without harm to student grades. This empowers you to have a data-driven, innovative approach to your teaching; based on what you learn, you can give students additional targeted practice, adjust an upcoming assignment, or simply add a relevant warm-up question to your next lecture. 

Additionally, PlayPosit lets you know if students are completing required readings or videos. This is especially important in an online environment, where students doing their best still struggle with accountability. PlayPosit provides you with the information needed to identify students who are grappling with keeping up, paving the way for an opportunity to check in on individuals who may need that extra gentle push or accommodations to keep things going.

Think of the time spent developing the PlayPosit worksheet or video as a front-end investment to save time later. Once created, student performance data is collected without any additional grading, and time can be spent in other ways, like creating just-in-time interventions tailored to student needs. Additionally, these PlayPost experiences can be reused in later semesters, increasing the value of the initial front-end work. 

STEM Specific: Keeping Students On Track

In information-dense, fast-paced courses where topics build on each other, once a student falls behind it can be difficult to catch up. You can take advantage of PlayPosit analytics by designing questions to gauge student understanding of core concepts in the lecture or reading. This allows you to decide what (if any) additional support to provide students before building on top of the core concept, empathetically and effectively helping support students who may be overwhelmed with the course or directing them to existing support services, such as tutoring through the Learning Resource Center (LRC).

Example: Bulb and Interaction Analytics

At a glance, Bulb analytics gives you an at-a-glance look at student responses to questions throughout the Bulb, allowing you to quickly identify questions students are struggling with. You can also see average Bulb scores and the fraction of learners that have completed the Bulb, letting you know students are doing.

Screenshot of interaction data for entire Bulb.
Screenshot of analytics for an entire Playposit Bulb

Interaction data summarizes student responses to individual questions, allowing you to easily see common incorrect responses.

Screenshot of PlayPosit analytics for specific Bulb interaction.
Screenshot of analytics for a specific PlayPosit Interaction

To Sum It Up

PlayPosit is a tool that supports a teaching practice of continuous improvement. The information instructors get from PlayPosit analytics makes it easy to learn how students are doing, find learning pain points, and adjust as needed to set students up for success before the big test or project.

Feeling Inspired?

Consider a few short and simple strategies to tailor your course to student needs based on what you learn from PlayPosit analytics:

  • Begin the next lecture or module with a warm-up question targeting the topics students had difficulty with. This builds retrieval practice into your course, helping students retain tricky information more effectively. If you’re interested in learning more about retrieval practice, consider taking this 20-minute OneHE course, Small Teaching: Retrieval
  • If the analytics show a student hasn’t been watching the course videos, consider adopting a warm demander approach and reaching out compassionately to individuals who may need accommodations or a gentle reminder. This is especially valuable in an online environment, where students may feel as if they are on their own. 
  • With the information gathered over several PlayPosit videos or worksheets, create a short, low-stakes quiz with multiple attempts to address areas of improvement. This formative assessment not only gives students additional practice but it also encourages learners to study these topics more when exam time comes. 

*Requires a OneHe account to access.

*CI Faculty who do not have an account should complete the OneHE interest form to request the OneHE registration form to activate their account. Once you’ve activated your account, you’ll be able to sign in and access the content.

Let’s Connect!

Thinking about incorporating PlayPosit into your existing teaching practice? We have resources to support you in getting started, so you can spend less time on the “how-to” and more on teaching.

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