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Lessons Too Hard? Let's Put A "Stop" To It!

August 11, 2011


A teacher recently contacted me with the following issue:

“What my students enjoyed about Dreambox initially was the fact that they’re given a variety of activities to choose from, the activities adjust to their skill level, and they don’t have to work on only one activity for long periods of time.  However, one of my students was complaining that her activities were too hard for her.  That was two weeks ago – now, she only has one activity available on her Lesson Map!  This student says she’s been given the same activity over and over again, for the past two days, with no other options.  Is this a bug?”

The short answer to this is “no, it’s not a bug”, and I will be more than happy to explain the problem.  As you know, DreamBox Learning’s GuideRight technology is designed to adjust the difficulty and variety of lessons offered, based on a student’s demonstrated instructional level and unique input.  If a student finds that DreamBox is not making these adjustments, then you might want to check the way they are using DreamBox – chances are, they are using the “Stop” button to exit out of their lessons.

DreamBox analyzes a student’s input on a click-by-click basis, and uses this input to assign the most appropriate follow-up lessons.  However, if a student does not complete a lesson, DreamBox does not make this assessment, as it assumes the student must leave for a non-academic reason (e.g. eating lunch, using the bathroom, etc).  It’s hardly fair to give a student a bad grade every time they stop a lesson, so DreamBox chooses instead to ignore the results of the lesson entirely.

For this reason, if a student makes a habit of exiting lessons with the “Stop” button, instead of completing the lessons, then they won’t be assigned new, easier to understand lessons in a timely fashion.  In worst case scenarios, where the student keeps exiting the same lesson repeatedly, and doesn’t try doing any other lessons, this can actually cause DreamBox to stop offering other lessons entirely!

In many cases, students who exit lessons do so because they are apprehensive about getting answers wrong.  However, DreamBox analyzes a student’s incorrect answers, and uses this analysis to offer the most appropriate follow-up lessons.  Therefore, it is very important that students do not shy away from incorrect answers – wrong answers are part of the educational experience, and this is doubly true in DreamBox Learning.

If your student is saying that their lessons are too hard, then watch them use DreamBox for a while, to see if they are using the “Stop” button when they get frustrated.  If they are, coach them on when it is and is not appropriate to use “Stop” mid-lesson.  Then, encourage the student to push through every lesson, even if it is a little difficult or they have to guess or make mistakes, and you should see more appropriate lessons being offered.  Remember, too, that the “Help” button is always available – one click will repeat the lesson instructions, while a second click will give more detailed instructions.  This can also be very helpful for a student that is stuck on a difficult activity, and using “Help” will not have a negative impact on a student’s score for the lesson.

And, of course, you can always contact us here in Customer Support!  We’re always more than happy to study your student’s progress file and make recommendations.  You can call us at 1-877-451-7845 Monday through Friday between 8AM and 5PM PST, or e-mail us at  We’re here to help!


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