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8 Posts authored by: Kristyn Brown
Kristyn Brown

Lazy Days of Summer

Posted by Kristyn Brown Jul 15, 2016

As the school year winds to a close, our thoughts inevitably turn towards summer vacation...

Well, maybe not. Here at Sapling Learning we are busy getting ready the most hectic time of the year: “course creation season” in July and August.

 

Which means right now we must review our course templates to make sure everything is ready, especially texts with new editions. We compare the new edition to the old one to find all the changes, then we review the assignments to make sure every question fits the text in both topic and language.

 

We search the library for questions to fill gaps in our coverage of the text. If we do not find what we need, we author something new. Or, perhaps, copy and edit an existing question that almost works. We are also adding new Economic News Analysis assignments and links to Federal Reserve educational materials to every template.

 

If you have been using the same course for several semesters, or if your text has come out with a new edition, talk to your tech TA about getting set up with the most current template, so you and your students can take advantage of our freshest material.

Kristyn Brown

Lazy Days of Summer

Posted by Kristyn Brown Jun 6, 2016

As the school year winds to a close, our thoughts inevitably turn towards summer vacation...

Well, maybe not. Here at Sapling Learning we are busy getting ready the most hectic time of the year: “course creation season” in July and August.

Which means right now we must review our course templates to make sure everything is ready, especially texts with new editions. We compare the new edition to the old one to find all the changes, then we review the assignments to make sure every question fits the text in both topic and language.

We search the library for questions to fill gaps in our coverage of the text. If we do not find what we need, we author something new. Or, perhaps, copy and edit an existing question that almost works. We are also adding new Economic News Analysis assignments and links to Federal Reserve educational materials to every template.

If you have been using the same course for several semesters, or if your text has come out with a new edition, talk to your tech TA about getting set up with the most current template, so you and your students can take advantage of our freshest material.

Every spring, we use student usage data to comb through our library of questions, looking for those that students struggle with the most. While some questions are simply difficult—even deliberately so—others might need to be reworded for clarity, or to make the feedback more helpful.

One example is a money creation question using balance sheets. The data shows that 33% of the students who worked this question in 2015 gave up before arriving at the correct answer, which flagged it as needing review. We found that the feedback addressed the changes to reserves, loans, and deposits, but then included only one response for incorrect changes to all other accounts: “Not every account is affected by the deposit and loan.”

This is too vague to be helpful, so we added five new feedback responses, including:

“The entry for the bank's property is incorrect. The bank did not buy or sell any equipment or buildings.”

Questions with lots of answers, like this one with eight balance sheet entries, need to be very specific about the error in order for the student to learn from the mistake. Real student data is a powerful tool we use to improve our questions as well as students' learning experience.

If you have not yet seen our first Economic News Analysis assignment, please ask your Tech TA to add it to your course. We're launching a new series of assignments based on Washington Post articles—students can follow a link to the article, then answer questions pertaining to it. Our questions will use the article as a starting point and have your students apply what they learn from the article to the economic framework developed in the text and in your classroom.

Our first article, which focuses on falling corn prices, encourages students to consider the ramifications on farmers and how they are likely to respond. Our goal is to provide thought-provoking questions on topics that are of current interest, yet timeless enough to not be outdated by the end of the semester. We will be rolling out two articles for macroeconomics and two for microeconomics over the course of the semester. Be sure to keep an eye on this newsletter to find out when the next articles will be available for use in your courses.

For more information, please watch our 30-minute webinar on Economic News Analysis.

The 2014–2015 school year was a busy one for the Economics team—we authored over 900 questions and added three titles: Mateer/Coppock, Parkin, and Bade/Parkin. Our biggest change was to the question bank itself, as we have now made every economics question accessible to every professor in the Sapling Economics taxonomy.

Simply click on the title in the orange question bank of the Activity Editor to expand the taxonomy, drilling down to the desired topic. Once a particular section is highlighted, be it a single topic or the entire bank, clicking on the ID column header sorts the questions by their ID numbers. In general, the larger the ID number, the newer the question. This is an excellent way to find the newest questions available for any topic.

Because economists tend to use a wide variety of vocabulary and approaches to the discipline, our questions present several different ways to discuss the same ideas. Check out the screen shot of Ch. 28, Externalities. Each line on the left leads to questions using those exact terms. Economics is the science of choice, so what better way to show that than to offer our professors plenty of choices?

New Economics Content 2015 [hyperlink that to this: http://www.saplinglearning.com/ibiscms/course/view.php?id=46443 ] is a Sapling Learning demonstration course comprised of over 500 new and newly improved questions—be sure to take special notice of the first section, Economic News Analysis. You’ll be delighted to learn that our first six assignments based on Washington Post articles are ready for your students. As the example here shows, each assignment contains a link to the article along with a question that requires your students to actually read the article to answer.

We have been adding our instructors to this course as students in order to allow you to preview the new material—the link should take you straight to the course. You might be asked if you want to enroll yourself in the course. This is normal, and you should reply “Yes” if prompted.

Be sure to let your Tech TA know if you want to add the news assignments or any particular questions to your course, or if you have trouble with the link. New users always get the most up-to-date courses, but instructors who copy a course from one semester to the next sometimes miss out on the newest and the best. Don’t hesitate to drop us an email if you see something that strikes your fancy!

Kristyn Brown

Economic News Analysis

Posted by Kristyn Brown May 16, 2016

If you have not yet seen our first Economic News Analysis assignment, please ask your Tech TA to add it to your course. We're launching a new series of assignments based on Washington Post articles—students can follow a link to the article, then answer questions pertaining to it. Our questions will use the article as a starting point and have your students apply what they learn from the article to the economic framework developed in the text and in your classroom.

Our first article, which focuses on falling corn prices, encourages students to consider the ramifications on farmers and how they are likely to respond. Our goal is to provide thought-provoking questions on topics that are of current interest, yet timeless enough to not be outdated by the end of the semester. We will be rolling out two articles for macroeconomics and two for microeconomics over the course of the semester. Be sure to keep an eye on this newsletter to find out when the next articles will be available for use in your courses.

For more information, please watch our 30-minute webinar on Economic News Analysis.

Kristyn Brown

Economics Updates

Posted by Kristyn Brown May 13, 2016

The 2014–2015 school year was a busy one for the Economics team—we authored over 900 questions and added three titles: Mateer/Coppock, Parkin, and Bade/Parkin. Our biggest change was to the question bank itself, as we have now made every economics question accessible to every professor in the Sapling Economics taxonomy.

Simply click on the title in the orange question bank of the Activity Editor to expand the taxonomy, drilling down to the desired topic. Once a particular section is highlighted, be it a single topic or the entire bank, clicking on the ID column header sorts the questions by their ID numbers. In general, the larger the ID number, the newer the question. This is an excellent way to find the newest questions available for any topic.

Because economists tend to use a wide variety of vocabulary and approaches to the discipline, our questions present several different ways to discuss the same ideas. Check out the screen shot of Ch. 28, Externalities. Each line on the left leads to questions using those exact terms. Economics is the science of choice, so what better way to show that than to offer our professors plenty of choices?