Sapling Learning strives to engage students and save educators time. Toward that end, we’ve collected some recommended strategies for the implementation of Sapling Learning based on our experience supporting instructors since 2008.
Of course, these are only recommendations and we understand that one size does not fit all. You are always free to configure your homework site however you see fit, and we’re happy to assist you in managing and configuring your homework site.
- Communicate to your Client Success Specialist if there are certain sections of the textbook that you omit and/or emphasize so we can customize your chapter assignments accordingly. Then, you can confidently tell your students that the homework is an accurate representation of what will be covered on exams, which will help them see the value of working on it.
- Treat the homework as a learning tool for students rather than strictly summative assessment. Sapling Learning excels in this capacity.
- Don't limit attempts. The default setting for grading policies is to allow students unlimited attempts with a 5% deduction per attempt, both of which can be changed. We strongly recommend unlimited attempt because it allows the student to take full advantage of all the feedback that we have programmed into our questions.
- Keep homework low-stakes. That is, make it worth only a small percentage of the overall course grade and keep the grading policy relatively lenient. But, do make it at least some percentage of the overall course grade (we recommend 5-10%) or else they won’t do it
- Don't stress about cheating. Students are less incentivized to cheat on low-stakes homework, and those who do tend to fail the tests and the class. Furthermore, students should not necessarily be discouraged from working in groups because with randomization and questions pools, students end up sharing concepts and procedures instead of final answers.
Saving Educators Time
- Avoid more than one due date per week. It's tempting to try to force students into good study habits, but you'll end up fielding more requests for extensions. We recommend one assignment per chapter, which usually works out to something due every 1.5 weeks on average.
- Assignments with fixed content are lower-maintenance than assignments with fixed due dates. It may be tempting to say that homework is always due on a certain day of the week (e.g., "Week 1 HW"). However, that means questions need to get moved around if you don't get quite as far in lecture that week as you planned. Instead, we recommend naming the homework after its contents (e.g., "Chap 1 HW") so that the questions can remain fixed, and if you don't finish covering a topic as quickly as you expected, you just have to change the due date. If necessary, chapter assignments can be broken up into smaller chunks without fixing them to a timeline by calling them “Chap 1a”, “Chap 1b” etc.
- Emphasize that students should contact technical support for all technical questions or issues. Your time is too valuable to be fielding these types of questions from students, so please let us share the load.