Written by Tom Valsler Monday, 20 May 2019
Just over a month ago we released a blog describing our work on a dynamic worksheet generation tool. This was our first experiment in dynamically generated content. Today we announce our next experiment, dynamically generated example questions. Below are the first few questions we have created, available to all for a short time.
Try it for yourself - simply click the DYNAMIC button to create a new version of the question. Worked solutions can be viewed by opening the section beneath the question. The questions can also be viewed in full screen by clicking the expand icon.
Complete Mathematics members will be familiar with the example questions that appear on our online platform, but for non-members here is a summary of what they are, and what they are for.
Example questions, along with a wealth of other support materials, are available to a teacher once they have chosen the particular objective(s) for their lesson from the Complete Mathematics curriculum. The example questions come in three varieties: ‘Typical’, ‘Hard’ and ‘Probing’. ‘Typical’ questions are designed to offer some guidance to the teacher on the sort of questions their pupils should be expected to answer. ‘Hard’ questions build on the ‘Typical’ questions and provide more of a challenge to the pupils. Finally ‘Probing’ questions provide the teacher with questions that may challenge their pupil’s preconceptions and are intended to broaden the pupil’s knowledge.
We have found that, as well as using these questions for guidance and to inform their planning, teachers are also using them in front of the class as a teacher led activity. It is for this use case that making these example questions dynamic is an especially attractive proposition. Teachers will be able to walk through a question with the class, with help from the worked solution, then click ‘Regenerate’, and immediately have another version for the pupils to attempt on their own.
Further to this, example questions are also used on the pupil side of Complete Mathematics after the completion of a quiz. Pupils are provided with a page to analyse their performance, as part of this process they are shown similar questions to the quiz questions they have answered (particularly useful for incorrectly answered questions). This provides another brilliant opportunity to put dynamic example questions to use, with pupils able to generate as many further practice questions (and worked solutions) as they want. This gives pupils an even greater opportunity to independently fill the gaps in their learning.
The goal of these experiments on dynamically generated content is to lay the groundwork for making Complete Mathematics an even closer mapping of the mastery cycle. If we can use computing power to make the loops of the cycle more efficient it frees up teachers to spend more time planning and teaching brilliant, insightful lessons. But it is no good when creating a quiz or worksheet if the generation of questions is not intelligent or when generating example questions we don’t also provide responsive worked solutions. Our goal is to produce content that is as good as the teacher would have produced if they had the time (or pretty close to it!).
So what’s next? As well as continuing to populate Complete Mathematics with more dynamic example questions and more dynamic worksheets we will be adding new functionality to allow users to input (and check) their answers. This will make these questions much more powerful, whether they are used in a worksheet for homework, at the front of the class, or in a quiz.