How do we give users valuable and easy to understand insights into their learning?
There have been millions of questions answered on Synap. And through that data we can find how well someone is performing on each individual question and test.
We wanted to go a bit deeper, after all questions are just one data point, and a test could have hundreds of questions in it. What if you want to know how you're performing in a certain area? How well you're doing across multiple tests? Suddenly the gap between questions and tests becomes huge. Synap needed a way to group questions in different tests together, and we do that with tags:
This gets us a long way there into untangling performance. Tags let you see how well you were performing across different subjects, topics, difficulties or anything the admin had picked.
This didn't get us to where we need to be because what about Tags that have a relationship or a specific meaning. For example If someone is studying:
They would want to know how they were performing for each of those topics. But they may want to know how they are doing over all in that specific subject, which would be science. And each of those topics may have some common subtopics like biochemistry, organic chemistry, mechanics.
This brings us to
Facets a way to group together and break down tags across questions.
Which closes the gap between Tests and Questions. Internally we've been calling all of this 'Fractal'.
A fractal is a never-ending pattern. Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop.
One of nature's fractal patterns on a Romanesco Cauliflower
Fractals produce some of the most complicated and unmistakable patterns in nature, from the shape of a galaxy to the pattern on a cauliflower. Despite their perceived complexity fractals are made up of very simple units, That follows a rule that governing a relationship to build up the patterns. For Synap we see individual questions as those simple units, that are grouped together by facets and tags to produce a set of data that each user can gain meaningful insights into their learning.
Adding Facets to Tags
There are 3 types of Facets to be aware of:
- Content (Exam, Module, Subject, Topic & Subtopic)
All the content tag facets work together as part of a linear hierarchy. Which can be used to describe the material. Exam, Module, Subject, Topic and Subtopic. Exam is the highest level way to group your content getting more specific as you move down the hierarchy to Subtopic.
In the examples below I've left out Exam and Module to keep it as simple as possible, as they can be very specific to each use case.
Looking at subject, topic and subtopic on Synap to show a relationship between tags. In theory can set these facets on any tags, however you should be looking for a relationship between all 3 first.
In the example above I have defined Alcohol, as the subject, as it what all of its corresponding topics and subtopics have in common.
Topics I've picked Wine, Spirits, Beers because their corresponding subtopics can be grouped together by that topic. Spirits relates to Whiskey and Vodka, but not to IPA and Lager. All of them still relate to Alcohol, the subject
Finally I have defined Red wine, to Lagers as subtopics as they are all independent enough from each other but are related back to their corresponding topic and subject.
It's important to remember that these are all still tags, we are just adding an extra layer of definition on top of them.
Once you've defined a set of content tags, users, admins and educators will be able to see a attempt breakdown against each facet in the results for that quiz or exam.
All the content tag facets work together as part of a linear hierarchy. Which can be used to describe the learning material.
Assign tags a skill facet to leverage the score by skill. We don't impose any requirements on what is or isn't a skill. You may find there is some overlap between skills and content tags, for example algebra is a skill but also a subject. The trick here is to prioritise what you want the users to see and visualise.
We recommend that skills be something that is shared across quizzes and questions, possibly something that goes across different topics.
Similar to skill , difficulty tags a will display a score on an attempt by difficulty. We don't impose any requirements on what is or isn't a difficulty. Tags that require are difficulty facet should be fairly independent and easy to identify from all other facet types.
Easy, Medium and Hard are the the standard selection, but you may have Level 1, 2, 3 or another system to rank the difficulty of questions.
By leveraging facets and tags you can provide your users with more insights, and more useful data on what they need to work on.
See our help article on Tags for more information on tagging questions
Use the Tag manager on platform to add, remove and update tags and facets. Note that tags with facets should be visible to students.
Settings > Tags > Edit
Remember that facets are just a type of tag, so have a think about what is important to your portal, what is your: content, skills and difficulty. You can test them out with your admin account and make changes after.