I am thinking about buying this product but there is an issue that is important to me.
The following thoughts and ideas are open and free to anyone for any use what-so-ever.
Years ago I was expert on writing programs for PLATO (Programmed Logic of Automatic Teaching Operation) which came out of CERL (Computer Education Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois).
Over the years I have experimented with various drills, and found one which was superior to many other types, especially for a performance art such as music. I am hoping your program can be configured to do something similar, or if not, you would consider adding such a method.
I had the goal in mind of removing the idea which is natural to the class room, but when used on computers does not take advantage of the ability of computers to monitor progress during a drill or examine. The idea I would like to be free of in some situations is that of grading the student on performance. What I would rather happen is that the student works with the drill until a certain performance is reached. In other words, instead of the grade, the student would work until he got to the target level of performance, for example, 90% of all questions answered correctly, at which point he/she would automatically pass on to the next level.
I am not asking you to do all of that, but rather the first and most important step. The first, and most important step is not to grade depending on whether the student got 18 out of 20, but instead did a certain minimum number to establish a base-line, and then continue to work until the student succeeded in getting, let us say, a 90% score.
With such a scheme, the drill must be achievable, and not only do we want it to be achievable, but we want the student to continue to retain and perform at the target level.
I have fiddled around with how to do this, and I got drills that sort of worked in this way by finding the percentage correct over some recent group of questions, say the last 20 answered, or some such. But for some reason this scheme did not work very well in regard to retention.
But then I chanced on a drill which continuously calculated the percentage of all the questions from the very beginning of the drill. In fooling around with it, to my surprise I discovered that if I worked on the drill for a longer time AVERAGING ALL THE QUESTIONS FROM THE VERY START OF THE DRILL AND DISPLAYING THE RESULTANT PERCENTAGE CORRECT...the percentage would slowly increase over time, AND ONCE THE TOTAL PERCENT FROM THE BEGINNING TO THE END OF THE DRILL REACHED THE TARGET PERCENTAGE, THE LONG TERM RETENTION WAS MUCH BETTER!!!
This was true even if at the start of the drill the knowledge of the correct answers was quite low so maybe only getting 30% right to start with, but working long enough to get to the target percentage was very rewarding. I would often set a very high target, like 95%...now understand that the 30% data was included in the final result which would make the drill quite long...certainly much longer than 20 questions.
Once I saw this result, I think I figured out what was going on. When you get a high score, but didn't do well on the material earlier, the memory of the earlier material is still part of your history of performance, and as such the brain hasn't been "told" on an deeper kinetic unconscience level what is really "right". Both parts of the experience are still part of the experience, and future performance will be reflected in this.
HOWEVER, if one works until all performance from the very first until the end is say, 90% or 95%, then there is absolutely no way, even on the automatic kinetic lower levels of the brain for the brain to conclude that the 90% or 95% is anything but the "way things are to be done".
There is another reason for longer drills, at least 1/2 hour in length. Until very recently, the growth of nerves cells has never been directly observed, but an experiment has been done where brain cells were sustained in nutrients and put under a microscope and stimulated. It was found that AFTER 1/2 HOUR OF STIMULATION, NEW NERVE FIBER GROWTH WAS DIRECTLY OBSERVED!! The traditional view is that after a certain age our brains don't grow any more, but these new observations are strongly suggestive that trying to master something for at least 1/2 an hour can actually cause the brain to physically develop.
So my conclusion and suggestion to you people for EarMaster 5 is to allow the alternative of making the exercises open ended with a dynamic percentage correct being displayed until a traget percent is reached, as an alternative to having 20 questions.
Thank you for your attention in this,
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