Why does the DynEd courseware occasionally kick a student out of an activity?

When we use a language, we don’t do only one thing – we listen, then say something, then listen to the answer, maybe write down something, etc. The DynEd methodology is based on the way we naturally use language.

An important feature in the DynEd courseware is what we call prescriptive study. It is designed to make students study more evenly throughout the material by preventing them from getting comfortable in one activity and spending too much time there.

Reaching automaticity in any skill requires some level of tension to facilitate building connections between the neurons in the brain. One of the most complex skills we acquire is communicative easily and effectively in a language. DynEd developed the prescriptive study feature to force students to get out of a comfortable activity into using the language in different, less familiar contexts. Reaching 20% completion of the overall required time for an activity in one day is not effective in that it doesn’t allow the kind of practice that creates the connections needed to master the material. Prescriptive study works to the student’s advantage by forcing her to focus on practice that uses the language in a variety of ways. Going back to the exercise on different days forces a student to practice regularly and frequently, which is the key to achieving automaticity.

Prescriptive study can be seen in the Records Manager in the student’s By Lesson screen by opening up a unit. In the notes column, the comment Reached the 20% daily limit for this lesson indicates that the prescriptive study feature closed that activity when the student has reached 20% for that day. You can show a student why the activity was closed by going into his account and pointing out the comment.

In the example above, on 10-Sep-2019 the student studied in English by the Numbers Unit 1, Hundreds twice, first completing 12% and then, later that day completing another 8%. At that point, the student was told to move on to another activity in another lesson or unit, or even in another course that would be included in the level. In this case, Fractions and Decimals, and Quiz within the same course as well as material in other embedded courses were available and open for study.

It is important to remember that students are not being prevented from studying in the courseware; just encouraged to move on to other activities to use the language in different contexts. As you know as a language professional, that is a much more effective study method. Please explain to your students that prescriptive study is actually a very valuable tool and does not impede progress, on the contrary. Making sure that students understand this very important feature will help them stay motivated.