Thursday, 21 February 2013

Post test XP bonus points!!!!

I think that some my students expect and to some extent enjoy taking quizzes and tests. However, some of them, no matter how much they study find tests and quizzes intimidating. 

I realised this and thought, after the test I'll give my students a few more days to study, then I'll give them another chance with a similar quiz. I thought this was fair and a great way to keep students involved and thinking about the topic which needed to be learned. As I should of expected, few of them actually studied, and ended up with the same grade, something slightly lower or some marginally higher. A failed idea I thought.

Anyway, a few days later I asked my friend what XP was, as he was always talking about it when playing computer games. He said it meant "experience", and went on to say, "When I play, I obtain experience points which I can then use  to buy weapons, spells and stuff."

I had read about using game theory in education and thought it was a great opportunity to apply it. Here's how I did it.

Step 1 - There is still hope!
When I give back the grammar, reading, writing, speaking, or writing test, there are often some students who look disappointed. I tell them not to worry, as they can earn more points on their test.

Step 2 - Here's how you do it.
If student a gets 8/20 on a test, they can gain XP points. If it is a grammar test, they do this by completing more grammar work on that theme. At first you may need to give them some extra work. However, after the first time, tell them they have to find their own XP points by finding extra work online or in books.

For example: Sarah gets 9/20 on her test, so she wants more points.

1 - She can do some online practice, take a screen shot and send it to me. 
Screen shot taken fromPerfect English grammar

2 - She can complete a worksheet/PDF, take a pic of it and send it to me.
Taken fromClassWiki
Step 3 - Awarding points.
This is completely up to you. But when I did it, I awarded half to 1 point depending on how many pieces of work the student did.

In Sarah's case, if she sent me a screen shot of 10 questions answered, I may give her an extra point. Her score has gone from 9/20 to 10/20. Now, if she does more work she can get even more XP points!

Step 4 - Too much!
There is a chance you will get lots of students sending you work to get extra XP points. In this case, I create a page on my class Wiki for the students to upload their work to. It helps me to keep everything organised. 

I like giving my students extra chances to earn points for their tests, as well as helping them to become more autonomous in their learning. It means they keep learning about the topic, which in the end I hope helps them to understand it more. 

I have used this with my writing, grammar and reading classes, and there is no reason why you couldn't use it for speaking and listening. They can record their voice on vocaroo and email it to you, or listen to some tracks and answer questions about it. All you need is that evidence of learning. 

I'm hoping to use the system as an alternative or instead of tests. What other methods do you use to assess your students learning? I'd love to hear them.


  1. I attended a great webinar on dynamic assessment, and while I can't use it all the time I LOVED using it when I could

    As for XP, I don't exactly do it, but I do let students create practice test questions as homework. Then I compile these and pass out a "practice" test. If students complete it they get extra credit on their test (and a bit more practice) it tends to work very well.

  2. Thanks for the post. I'll check it out this weekend. I like finding new ways to assess my students. I'm getting bored of tests and I'm sure the students are.

    XP seems to work for my class. I like it, cause it means they have to take charge of their learning. I think they may even learn more from it, well... that's my hope anyway haha.