Trial run-through including how to exit during a test
Assessing students with Lucid Recall is straightforward but before the teacher or administrator attempts to test any student it is advisable first to run through the complete suite of tests to familiarise themselves thoroughly. To do this, register yourself as the ‘student’. If you wish to exit any test and return to the tests menu before the end, then press F4. This quick exit from a test is also useful when demonstrating the program to other teachers or for use in training sessions. However, the F4 key should not be used when testing a student unless absolutely necessary, as data from that test will not be saved.
Testing environment and equipment
The ideal testing environment is one that is reasonably quiet, with minimal distractions. Ideally, this should be a separate room, but Lucid Recall has been designed to be robust for use in the ordinary classroom, provided visual and auditory distraction (both to the student being tested and to other students in the class) have been minimised. To minimise auditory distraction, headphones are recommended. Inexpensive lightweight headphones of the type used for portable audio equipment will be adequate (but not the type that are inserted into the ear). Teacher or supervisor judgement is paramount in ensuring the appropriate testing environment.
If assessment is going to be carried out in an ordinary classroom in which there are other pupils, the computer and the student should be positioned in such a way that the student is not looking directly at the rest of the class, nor should the rest of the class easily be able to see the monitor screen. The best position for this is usually in the corner of the room. Students should not attempt the tests when other students are in a position in which they can become involved in the task or act as a distraction. It will be hard for other students to inhibit their reactions and their behaviour may influence the decisions of the student being tested.
The teacher or supervisor should check that the equipment being used for the assessment is functioning correctly. This includes checking (1) that the sound system (speakers or headphones) is audible (not too loud or too soft, and without interference), and (2) that the mouse is functioning correctly.
- Sound System. Lucid Recall includes a sound volume check that allows the teacher or other administrator to test the sound level on any computer (you need to be running Lucid Recall on that computer with the headphones or speakers plugged in). In the Administrator Console, click on the icon for ‘Sound Volume Check’ to hear a voiced sample sound, which will be the same voice used throughout Lucid Recall. If the sound is not at the desired volume, please exit from Lucid Recall and alter the computer’s sound volume. There may be a speaker icon with a slider control on the Taskbar at the bottom right of the computer’s monitor screen.
- Mouse. Please ensure that the mouse is functioning correctly (non-optical types, particularly, require regular cleaning) and is positioned in front of the student on a suitable surface so that its movements are unimpeded. Lucid Recall should ideally be used with a mouse (wired or wireless) rather than a touch pad as the latter may affect response times.
Lucid Recall should not be used for testing when any other applications are running on the computer, as these can interfere with the timings and recording of results. Please close down all other applications before starting Lucid Recall.
Before testing, each student must be registered for the program (name and date of birth). Use the program’s help files by pressing F1 (see the Section 1.7 for guidance). The tests are selected from the Tests Menu screen (see the help files by pressing F1 from within the program). The tests can be done in any order but it is usually best to start with word recognition which students generally find quick and easy. Instructions are spoken by the computer, and each test commences with a practice or demonstration of the task. When the student has completed the practice items, the test phase begins.
The student should be sitting comfortably at a suitable level in front of the computer screen (not too high or low, in order for them to see the screen and use the mouse satisfactorily). It is not recommended that students attempt the tests standing up, as they are more likely to move about and alter the angle at which the screen is viewed – this can lead to failure to see everything that is happening on the monitor, and can also disrupt mouse control. The supervisor should check for reflections on the monitor from windows and lights that could impair the student’s perception. To do this the supervisor should check by viewing the screen from the same position that the student will adopt.
If necessary, students should be shown how to indicate responses to the computer using the mouse, and when to respond (essentially when the tests will allow them to respond). This is particularly important when testing students with physical disabilities. As with any format assessment, students should not be allowed to take the tests if they are unwell, as results are likely to be unreliable.
Most students will experience no difficulties in understanding what is required of them when taking the tests in Lucid Recall, enabling them to follow the practice tasks easily and progress to the test phase without special attention from the teacher or supervisor. However, it is important that the administrator ensures that students understand the nature of the tasks in Lucid Recall: that they are tests and not games, and they must work swiftly but thoughtfully and try their best at all times.
In the rare event that a student does not understand the instructions spoken by the computer the supervisor may re–express them in a more suitable manner. Explaining and reexpressing the task requirements to the student may continue into the demonstration and practice stages of each test. This is particularly useful for any student who is experiencing problems in understanding the true nature of the task. It is often easier for the student to comprehend the task requirements by experience of the practice stages, than by more abstract oral explanation. Once the test items commence there should be no further aid given to the student.
The three tests in Lucid Recall can be completed in any order.
It is usually not necessary for students to be closely supervised while attempting the tests, unless the teacher or administrator has a particular reason to do so. Lucid Recall is specifically designed for group testing and to require minimal input from the teacher or administrator. Note that if the results are being used to apply for exam access arrangements, JCQ regulations require the specialist who signs the JCQ forms to supervise the assessment.
Children with special educational needs may require additional support during assessment. If children struggle with word reading they may find it particularly difficult to complete the word recall test, which relies upon children being able to remember words, but also read the target words and distractor items. Support can therefore be offered so that children can recall the words out loud and a teacher or support worker can click on these words on the screen to provide a response. Using this method the scores will still reflect a child’s working memory, but will not be influenced by reading ability.
The tests in Lucid Recall have been designed to be interesting and stimulating for students in this age group and the vast majority of students are highly motivated to do their best. Once the teacher is satisfied that the student understands the requirements of a test, has completed the practice items and has moved on to the test items, the teacher may leave the student to complete that test.
Where the teacher suspects that a student may not be well motivated to complete the test, or may be easily distracted, or may be performing deliberately below their capabilities, closer supervision will be necessary. Disaffected students may display non-compliance by clicking on answers at random, rather than thinking about the tasks and selecting answers after proper consideration. Such students, or those with very low ability, may need close supervision in order to provide encouragement and ensure they remain on task.
In order for the assessment to be ‘fair’ (i.e. to give a reasonably accurate representation of the student’s abilities) it is essential to ensure that during the test:
- the student is paying attention, is ‘on task’, is not distracted and trying their best
- the student does not become unduly fatigued
- there is no teaching or helping with the task during the test items (whether from the supervisor or other students)
- that feedback from the supervisor is minimised and encouragement consistent (see further comments below).
Giving encouragement, prompts and feedback
As much as possible, the supervisor should avoid giving specific feedback to students during a test, because this may influence their behaviour in an undesirable fashion. This is good practice in any testing situation. There is a risk of feedback differentially affecting students, so that some are encouraged and others discouraged. Nevertheless, some students (particularly younger students or students with special educational needs) will try to elicit feedback from the supervisor about their performance. This may take the form of both verbal and non-verbal behaviours. For example, the student may ask directly if they were correct. Many students will look for the supervisor’s facial and bodily reactions to their responses. Some students may even try to evaluate the supervisor’s reaction by observing the supervisor’s reflection in the monitor screen. For these reasons it is usually preferable that if the supervisor is going to be near the student to observe the assessment they should sit to the side and slightly behind the student to minimise any feedback to the student which may bias the results.
Rather than specific feedback, general encouragement should be given to the student. This encouragement should be referenced to task completion rather than task accuracy and ideally should be delivered equitably to all students. However, it is inevitable that some students will require more encouragement than others, and where this is the case the teacher should be mindful of the possibility of influencing results unduly. Differential encouragement between students is likely to have an influence on the results obtained, and therefore should be avoided where possible. Some key phrases and general incentive prompts which may be used to aid the administration of the tests include: “well done”; “you were good at that, now try the next one”; “you will like this game”; “now concentrate on this”; “try hard”; “listen very carefully”; “have a go at these ones”; “have a try”; “just do your best”.
Timing of the assessment
It usually takes about 20–30 minutes for most children to complete the three tests in Lucid Recall. However, children who take a long time to respond to each trial, or more able children who progress to the most difficult levels, may take slightly longer. However, it is recommended that no time limit should be imposed upon children, who should be instructed to complete the tasks in their own time.
Each test is administered using a span procedure. This means that at the beginning of each test there are only a few items to remember, but the number of items then increases over successive trials. Testing is automatically terminated when a child continues to respond incorrectly, indicating that the number of items to be remembered has exceeded their memory span. This minimises the amount of time it takes to complete the assessments.
The time required to complete each test is also minimised by using a progression rule. A trial is one sequence of items or one pattern that is presented for recall. Each test is organised in blocks of six trials which have the same level of difficulty (i.e. the same number of items to remember). If a child correctly recalls four trials in any one block they automatically progress to the next block and full credit is given for the omitted trials. When three or more errors are made within a single block testing is automatically discontinued.