In a PLATO course, a unit usually contains a pretest, a posttest, and one or more modules. Some modules "mastery modules" include a tutorial, application, and mastery test or similar structure. Other, "completion-only" modules may include only an offline activity and a record completion activity that allows the Learner to record the fact that they have completed the offline activity.
Note: PLATO elective courses do not report mastery status, only completion status.
Tutorials and applications are not designed to give mastery, even though applications often give a score. Tutorials present the concepts and may include some practice with the concept. Tutorials will not have a score, just completion status. Applications are intended to allow Learners to practice the skills taught in the tutorial, more than once if needed.
A Learner earns mastery on the module by achieving mastery on the mastery test by scoring 80% or better. If the Learner does so on the first try, the learner can skip both the tutorial and application activities. If the Learner does not achieve mastery on the first mastery test attempt, the test locks and the Learner must complete the tutorial before being able to retake the test. It is recommended that the Learner also work on the application to get additional practice.
Some PLATO content titles use "all-in-one" activities, each of which combines the lesson, practice, and quiz into a single activity. Mastery of these activities require an 80% or better score on the quiz. These activities are found in Beginning Reading, Math Expeditions, Reading Explorations, Basic Skills for the Real World, Job Skills for the Real World.
Other modules contain an offline activity and an accompanying "record completion" activity. These modules do not report mastery; the Learner reports completion and this is treated as equivalent to mastery in reports. Educators may decide to require Learners to submit written material for one or more of these offline activities.
How is the number of questions required for mastery determined?
In mastery tests where 80% mastery does not result in a whole number, it will round to the nearest whole number using standard rounding rules.
Rounding Rules: 0-4 will round down, 5-9 will round up.
Example 1: A mastery test has 33 questions. 80% * 33 = 26.4. Using the rounding rules listed above, the nearest whole number is 26. A Learner must successfully complete 26/33 questions to achieve mastery.
Example 2: A mastery test has 42 questions. 80% * 42 = 33.6. Using the rounding rules listed above, the nearest whole number is 34. A Learner must successfully complete 34/42 questions to achieve mastery.
See the link below for more information on mastery tests:
Is there a way to change the 80% percent mastery criteria?
In PLATO content, the system defined mastery criteria for mastery tests is 80% and cannot be changed. This also applies to activities in some elementary content titles (Math Expeditions, Beginning Reading, Reading Explorations), each of which function as a combined tutorial, drill and mastery test. Some content titles use dynamic mastery tests that give enough questions to determine whether the test is mastered, but do not report a score; they nevertheless use the 80% criteria to determine mastery.
Although the system doesn't automatically recognize anything less than 80% as mastered, you can work around this by manually editing the status of the activity to show mastered and change the score to whatever you want. Refer to Editing Learner status in PLATO content for details.
How mastery is obtained in Math Problem Solving activities
Each Math Problem Solving activity has a problem that can be solved in three modes: Show Me, Assist Me, and Leave Me Alone. The Learner works the problem through in the first two modes in order to get instruction and practice solving the problem, but must solve it correctly in Leave Me Alone mode in order to earn mastery. Each time the Learner runs the problem, there are some numerical values that change, which means the Learner can't just use the answers from the previous run, but must go through the steps to arrive at the answers for that particular variation of the problem.
Recommended Best Practices:
- Learners are more successful if they first go through the activity in Show Me mode and possibly the Assist Me mode, before attempting to take it in Leave Me Alone mode.
- In Show Me and Assist Me, click the Hint (lightbulb) icon where it appears to get additional information about how to solve the problem correctly.
In order to view multiple tables and other windows at the same time within the main lesson window, use the resize button (double-headed arrow in the lower right corner of each window) to shrink one or more windows, then drag the windows near the top to allow you to view them comfortably. You may also need to minimize some windows, since they may not all fit on the screen at once.
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