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About a quarter of the students got an “H” in the assessment, so the exercise should be discontinued.

The same problem of not everybody performing well every day also exists in other sectors and other online learning platforms.

For example, in the administration of medicine to patients with chronic disease, many patients skip taking medicine frequently. Should the administration of the medicine be discontinued? Or in the education sector, should a school with a consistent history of negative value-addedness be closed down?

Many students got an “H” not because they didn’t do any exercise at all but because of the stringent assessment criterion. Any student with an average of less than 2 exercises done in a week was given an “H”. This means that “H” students are those with less than 104 exercises done in a year. A student getting a “G” in Vocablearning actually did more exercise with the system than the number of exercise required to get a perfect participation in English Builder. In the period between 2010.7.1 – 2011.6.30, the average no. of exercise done by a student in Form 1 is 164.3.

2010.7.1 –   2010.12.31

2011.1.1 –   2011.6.30

2010.7.1 –   2011.6.30

Total number of   exercise done by F1 students




Average number   of exercise done by each student




Average number   of days with exercise done by each student





Each exercise forces the student to provide the correct spelling of 60 words in his own word bank. Besides the meanings, it also gives the student the opportunity to revise the part of speech, synonyms, pronunciation and phonetic symbols of the word being asked. On average, each student revised the words in his word bank for at least 60 × 164.3 = 9858 times Note.

The criterion was set in such a stringent level for two reasons :

  1. Learning and remembering over 10,000 words in 5.7 years is a tall order. To meet the target, a student needs to exercise his brain at least 10 min. almost every day. This also helps the student to develop a disciplined learning practice subtly.
  2. In the original design, it was supposed that a more stringent assessment criterion will impose certain pressure onto the students to compel them to meet the target.

However, the average number of days with the exercise done is more or less the same in the two terms. This year, the mechanism has been adjusted in order to increase the participation of the students.

An automatic email notification service was launched to remind the participants to do the exercise if they had missed the exercise for more than 3 days. Telephone calls were also made to remind them the exercise. In the period of 28/7-6/9/2011, 494 telephone calls were successfully made.

With all these efforts, the participation of the students in August 2011 increased considerably. It is projected that the average revision frequency per student can be increased to about 13,000 this year.

2011.8.1 – 2011.8.31

2011.7.1 –   2012.6.30 (projected)

Total number of   exercise done by the pre-F2 students



Average number   of exercise done by each student



Average number of   days with exercise done by each student




If the number of students getting an “H” really matters more than the overall learning proficiency of the students, I believe that the number can be lowered to a level lower than 5% of the participants this year.

An automatic voice mail notification service is also being developed and may be launched next year if found appropriate.

Moreover, from the opinion of some students and parents, the single most effective means to increase the participation of the student is to include the exercise as an integral part of the formal assessment and give it a mark that will influence the ranking of a student in the form.

Note :      The actual frequency should be even higher as the program will ask the user the new and wrongly answered questions repeatedly until the user gets the answer correct 2 times consecutively. It was estimated that the student was actually required to do 100 retrievals instead on 60 in an exercise and gave a total of about 16430 retrievals in a year.

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