Using Twitter to help learners retain knowledge

john_smallPosted by John KleemanTwitter  Logo

Here’s a question for you: “What is the best way of stopping people forgetting things after learning?”

Think about this for a moment before looking ahead if you can.

I hope your answer is something like this: by asking them questions over time after the learning takes place.

When you learn something, you connect two or more concepts in memory. And when you are asked a question about what you have learned, you have to search your memory to find the answer. This searching makes the connection in memory stronger, so in the future you will be more likely to remember what you have learned rather than forget it. If you’re not familiar with this important idea, see these white papers by learning expert Will Thalheimer for more information:  The Learning Benefits of Questions and Measuring Learning Results.

If your learners go on to another course or go back to work, it’s not always easy to reach them to stimulate their memory with follow-up questions. Here’s where Twitter comes in: it can be a great tool for sending follow up questions.

Twitter grad logo

  1. Have your learners follow you on Twitter, either on your main account, or on a subsidiary account made for each course.
  2. Post short questions as tweets to stimulate people’s memory. Remember, even thinking about the answer can help reinforce the learning. You could post the right answer the next day.
  3. Follow these up with quizzes in Questionmark Perception. You can post links to to these assessments in your tweets. With the new support of mobile devices in Perception version 5, your learners can access these quizzes from mobile devices as well as PCs and Macs, and take the quizzes from their home or while traveling.

Shortening a question into 140 characters  is usually possible, and it’s easy to compress a URL to Perception’s open access entry point (open.php) to fit within a tweet. For instance the URL links to one of Questionmark’s sample assessments on Electricity Skills.
I hope this idea helps. And in case you’ve forgotten, what is the best way of helping people remember after learning?

Measuring Learning Results: Eight Recommendations for Assessment Designers

Joan PhaupPosted by Joan Phaup

Is it possible to build the perfect assessment design? Not likely, given the intricacies of the learning process! But a white paper available on the Questionmark Web site helps test authors respond effectively to the inevitable tradeoffs in order to create better assessments.

Measuring Learning Results, by Dr. Will Thalheimer of Work-Learning Research, considers findings from fundamental learning research and how they relate to assessment. The paper explores how to create assessments that measure how well learning interventions are preparing learners to retrieve information in future situations—which as Will states it is the ultimate goal of training and education.

The eight bits of wisdom that conclude the paper give plenty of food for thought for test designers. You can download the paper to find out how Will arrived at them.

1. Figure out what learning outcomes you really care about. Measure them. Prioritize the importance of the learning outcomes you are targeting. Use more of your assessment time on high-priority information.

2. Figure out what retrieval situations you are preparing your learners for. Create assessment items that mirror or simulate those retrieval situations.

3. Consider using delayed assessments a week or month (or more) after the original learning ends—in addition to end-of-learning assessments.

4. Consider using delayed assessments instead of end-of-learning assessments, but be aware that there are significant tradeoffs in using this approach.

5. Utilize authentic questions, decisions, or demonstrations of skill that require learners to retrieve information from memory in a way that is similar to how they’ll have to retrieve it in the retrieval situations for which you are preparing them. Simulation-like questions that provide realistic decisions set in real-world contexts are ideal.

6. Cover a significant portion of the most important learning points you want your learners to understand or be able to utilize. This will require you to create a list of the objectives that will be targeted by the instruction.

7. Avoid factors that will bias your assessments. Or, if you can’t avoid them, make sure you understand them, mitigate them as much as possible, and report their influence. Beware of the biasing effects of end-of-learning assessments, pretests, assessments given in the learning context, and assessment items that are focused on low-level information.

8. Follow all the general rules about how to create assessment items. For example, write clearly, use only plausible alternatives (for multiple-choice questions), pilot-test your assessment items to improve them, and utilize psychometric techniques where applicable.

Feedback in Questionmark Live

Posted by Jim Farrell

As I started thinking about what I wanted to blog about, I couldn’t get past the podcast done by our very own Joan Phaup and Dr. Will Thalheimer of Work-Learning Research on the use of feedback. One of the most powerful features in Questionmark Live is the ability to leave choice-based feedback. I will likely have many blog posts on this topic and Dr. Thalheimer’s white paper, but let’s start at the beginning:

Retrieval is more important than feedback. The role that feedback plays is to support retrieval.

This statement by Will seems simple, but it helps to understand how to write good feedback. There are so many things to think about when creating feedback in a question.

  • When is the retrieval opportunity presented?
  • What is the feedback for a correct answer?
  • What is the feedback for an incorrect answer?

How does Questionmark Live fit into this? Well, it is pretty easy to write feedback for late-in-learning retrieval since you are only trying to get the learner back on track. It is the early-in-learning feedback that needs to be more extensive so it can help the learner develop pathways to information to support later retrieval. Allowing a subject matter expert (SME) to create extensive feedback in Questionmark Live will ensure that your feedback is detailed and accurate. No one is expecting the SME to be an expert in question writing. You may need to tweak the question once you bring it into Perception, but your feedback will be far more powerful if you glean it from someone who knows about a subject in depth.


Multiple Choice Question with Feedback Showing


I really encourage you to read Dr. Thalheimer’s white paper to help you use feedback to improve the learning process.

Podcast: Dr. Will Thalheimer on the Use of Feedback

Posted by Joan Phaup

Dr.  Will Thalheimer of Work-Learning Research spoke with me recently about the role feedback plays in assessments and how it can be used to help learners.

Our conversation touches on the basics of using feedback effectively; if you want to learn more about this subject I recommend you check out Will’s research-to-practice paper: Providing Learners with Feedback. The paper examines the latest research on this complex topic and provides practical recommendations. You can find it in the Work-Learning Research Catalog or Questionmark’s white paper list.

So here’s Will! I hope you enjoy our conversation.