Green Tick : Tassomai - The Learning Program
The program targets students with questions that challenge, but which are appropriate to their ability, and which gradually increase in demand. It also provides information for parents, so that they can support and encourage...The most useful tool is SAM – the Student Accuracy Matrix.
Link : https://www.tassomai.com/
Tassomai’s Learning Program is an online quiz generator, which provides students with a set of quizzes based on their exam board’s content. It is designed to help students improve by guiding them to the areas upon which they need to work and giving them feedback on their progress. They are provided with a target number of quizzes that move forward continuously. Students need to keep their progress ahead of the target if they are to complete the course by exam day. This information is also provided for teachers, allowing them to monitor student activity and giving them the opportunity to guide the student to sections of the course upon which they need to focus. The program targets students with questions that challenge, but which are appropriate to their ability, and which gradually increase in demand. It also provides information for parents, so that they can support and encourage. The program is designed for frequent use and data link success to usage, based on figures from summer 2016 GCSE results.
Each student is set up on the system and logs on with an e-mail address and password. A dashboard screen presents a view of the student’s performance, with colour-coded graphics as well as an activity summary – how many days s/he has accessed in the last seven; how many quizzes s/he has done per day and how many questions s/he has got right. There is also a graph of volume and accuracy. Although it is helpful to see the summary, and the colour coding is useful, there is rather a lot of information. Tassomai are working to make the interface friendlier and tutorial videos are planned to encourage students to work methodically and accurately, rather than quickly.
By going to ‘Review’, students can look at their past performance in individual quizzes that are grouped specifically by topic area. Students can see the date, the number of questions answered and the score but, more usefully, when they click through to view answers, they can see their response, whether it was correct and, if not, what the correct response should be. The message screen is a nice touch, offering encouragement to students who might need it.
Students are set a quiz on the dashboard screen and this does have the specification topic and reference. Each question is written in bold, with a choice of four responses. However, the format of some of these questions is confusing and may lead to students choosing incorrectly because of the question design, rather than a lack of knowledge or understanding, until they get used to the program. This could then lead to a false impression that the student is improving, when in fact they have just understood the design of the program better. There is also some quite confusing use of capitalisation of key words, which weaker students may struggle to understand. However, Tassomai are in the process of changing these, as recent software changes have enabled use of coloured font, emboldening and underlining text.
Under each question is a statement telling the student whether they have answered the question previously and how they did, along with some words of encouragement. The screen is quite busy – there are small graphics, dots that change colour according to a correct or incorrect response and, once selected, the answer box turns blue and the correct answer box green. If the selected answer is correct, it goes blue, then green – all of which can be a little hard to follow at first.
At the end of a quiz, students get more information about their progress through today’s target number of quizzes: their accuracy and their speed. If students are doing well, the positive language should encourage them to carry on. If a student does less well in a topic, Tassomai adapts, providing more supportive, less challenging, more encouraging quizzes, allowing them to make progress and build in confidence before raising the level of challenge. Students are encouraged to try to keep their dashboard wheel green and blue as this means that they are on track to be ready for the exam.
The program generates a great deal of data. Classes (sets) can be sorted to give information in a variety of different ways – including progress, performance and activity. The most useful tool is SAM – the Student Accuracy Matrix. Drilling down through the colour-coded, different-sized dots that appear alongside each student name provides information on the student’s accuracy on a topic and their coverage of that topic. However, as with any tool, it is not just what the data say that matters, but what happens with that information. Teachers can see where students are struggling and can then address those topics in lessons or with intervention.
The SAM profile is updated every time a student takes a quiz and so it provides a live personal learning checklist for each student, at any given point in time. The colours give a quick indication of whether students are doing enough to complete a topic in time for the exam. It should be noted though that the questions are all of a multiple-choice nature and that students will need support for other types of response. However, Tassomai recognise the limitations of multiple-choice questions and are considering how to include other question formats.
The ability to manage playlists means that teachers can block certain topics, perhaps if they wish to focus attention on others, or if they haven’t yet covered a particular topic in their teaching. This means that the teacher can direct some of the content offered to students.
Data can be exported for teachers to monitor students’ progress and accuracy in topics, and weekly e-mails can be set up and sent to parents with details of their child’s activity: how much they’ve done, where they’re doing well and where they need more practice.
The Program costs £25 per Year 11 (age 16) student, with discounts available for PiXL (Partners in Excellence) schools and for early-bird ordering, meaning that schools will generally pay between £15 and £18 per student. There is also the guarantee that, if students use the product as described and fail to meet the given target, money will be refunded. For many schools, the initial outlay is likely to be a barrier, as there is no guarantee that students will use the program in the way intended, without parental support. Some schools, however, may decide that, as an intervention tool, the investment is justified. There is also the option for parents to subscribe to either a regular package – for example, for a Year 10 (age 15) student studying AQA Trilogy and wanting access to all three subjects, the cost is £51 per month. There is also a crammer for Year 11 advertised at £46.75 per month. This is promoted as being less than the cost of a tutor, which is true, although the two are not wholly comparable!
The website design is quite open – with an appealing ‘How Tassomai Works’ explanation screen, featuring graphics in the key colours used throughout the program. However, the simplicity and the use of acronyms means that it takes a while to get used to. This should not be a problem, as frequency of use is one of the conditions that Tassomai require for students to improve and for teachers to get the benefit of the most up-to-date information. The video on the ‘schools’ part of the webpage is informative and easy to follow. There will be some set-up required by teachers to get the most from the package and it does require students to have regular access to the Internet through some means, whether by smartphone, tablet or computer. This could be a barrier for a small minority. Tassomai is comparatively new and it will be interesting to track the success statistics as the number of users grow and with the new 9-1 GCSE specifications. It is pleasing to note that Tassomai are responsive to user opinion and continually strive to improve the product based on feedback and research.