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Three years ago, the Sapling Learning physics team began working on a project to add conceptual questions to our physics library. These questions are designed for use in courses for non-science majors, and focus more on understanding physical concepts than on calculating physical quantities. Although these questions are written with conceptual physics courses in mind, they have proved to be just as valuable in algebra- and calculus-based introductions to physics.


Today there are more than 500 conceptual-level questions in our library, covering a wide range of physics topics. We continue to add new questions regularly, giving particular attention to content requests submitted by instructors.


We have also added over 80 new quantitative problems to the physics library in the past academic year. These include simple one-step computations, as well as multi-step analytical problems. During the same time period, our astronomy team has added and updated more than 180 fantastic questions—some of which feature brand-new images from recent NASA missions.


Future newsletter updates will spotlight our favorite new content in each of these areas. Join us as we dig deeper into specific topics, answer modules or question types, and explore how Sapling Learning can enhance student learning in your courses.

Jonathan Bratt

Requesting New Content

Posted by Jonathan Bratt May 31, 2016

The Sapling Learning content library contains a broad selection of high-quality questions, but there will likely be times that you can’t quite find the problem you’re looking for. When this happens, one of your options is to submit a request to our content team.


When we receive a request for a new problem, we first decide whether it would be a valuable addition to our library. If we determine that the problem would be a good addition, one of our subject matter experts writes it out in detail. The problem is written in full Sapling Learning style, including a complete solution and specific feedback. Next, the problem goes through at least two stages of internal review to ensure accuracy and quality. After passing review, the problem is added to our library.


From start to finish, this process typically takes about one week per problem, depending on the complexity of the problem. Questions involving graphics will generally take longer.


In 2015, about 80 of the new questions that we added to the physics and astronomy libraries were written in response to requests from instructors. Some of our best content has originated this way, so please keep the requests coming!

Before a new question goes “live” in the Sapling Learning physics library, it must first pass a rigorous internal review process. However, the question’s journey of improvement doesn’t end there. After a question begins to be read and answered by students, issues with it may become apparent. Sometimes, an instructor will suggest a correction or improvement to an existing question. When this happens, we evaluate and implement the changes as soon as we can. For minor edits, these fixes are often applied the same day.


Our internal content experts also work to identify and fix potential issues with existing questions. Each year, we compile comprehensive statistics on the performance of every question in our content library. Questions are ranked by how often they are assigned by instructors, how frequently students gave up or answered incorrectly, and many other criteria. Based on this data, certain questions are selected for revision or replacement.


We take the quality of our content very seriously, and it is our goal to be continually improving our existing questions, along with writing new ones. Your feedback is an important part of this process, so please don’t hesitate to contact us with your comments or suggestions.