Infrequently Asked Questions

Here is some more detailed information about the Praxis Ed system.  We don't get asked these questions very often, but occasionally we do, and we think the answers are worth sharing.

Does the Praxis Ed system really work? 

It certainly does.  We regularly conduct studies on the site in order to test how well it is working.  We have published one of the studies (see the following question), showing that students using the Praxis Ed vocabulary program made 3-5 times more progress in vocabulary learning and retention than students studying vocabulary independently. The results were most dramatic for productive knowledge (being able to recall and use the words).

Another study performed in Japan compared students using the Praxis Ed site with those studying the words using only notebook activities in class.  Both groups made equal gains on an immediate post-test, but a surprise post-test conducted weeks later showed that students using Praxis Ed still remembered what they learned, while the other group had rapidly started to forget.  Again, the differences were most dramatic on the tests of productive knowledge.

What evidence do you have that the students are really learning? 

In 2007 we conducted a study on the vocabulary program to see how effective the site was in comparison with students studying through other methods.

Groups used in the study included:

  • a group using only Praxis Ed for vocabulary study
  • a group using Praxis Ed along with in-class practice with the words
  • a group only doing in-class practice of the words and independent study
  • a group doing only independent study of target words

The test vocabulary was included on the classes' midterm tests.  All groups made roughly equal gains on vocabulary.

Six weeks after the midterm test, a surprise test on the vocabulary was given to the students to see how well they still remembered the words.  During that six-week period, the students had no exposure to the test words.  Students were tested not only on their recognition of the words (receptive), but also their ability to recall and use the words correctly (productive).

The results are as follows:

Total Vocabulary Gains (from pre-test to delayed post-test)

Vocabulary Gains

□ Praxis Ed only

□ Praxis Ed + in-class study

□ In-class study + independent study

□ Independent study only

 Receptive
Vocabulary
Productive
Vocabulary
 

As the chart shows, the groups using Praxis Ed made 2-4 times more progress than the other groups.  Even though all four groups had roughly equal progress on the mid-term test, only those studying with the Praxis Ed system were able to keep the words they learned.

See here (pdf) for details of the study.

Why is it important to have such a wide variety of exercises? 

Praxis Ed vocabulary distinguishes itself from other vocabulary sites in that we provide a large number of different exercise types for each word.  Each type of exercise is aimed to help students encounter the word in a different way in order to add depth to your knowledge.

There is nothing wrong with simple flashcard activities (see the word in English and identify it in your native tongue, or vice versa), and we do have some of these exercises.  However, these activities alone miss a lot more information about the word.  This other information is necessary for:

  • Recognizing the word when you hear it (not just read it)
  • Knowing how the word is used in sentences grammatically
  • Knowing how the word is used by native speakers (avoid Konglish, Spanglish, Chinglish, etc.)
  • Seeing the words in a variety of contexts to get a better sense of how the word is used in English

As we have found in our research (above), providing students with these types of exercises makes all the difference on their ability to actually use the new words.  That is the Praxis Ed difference!

How do students respond to the site? 

Overall, they respond well.

Every year we conduct surveys to see how the students feel about the Praxis Ed vocabulary system.  Here are the results of our 2012 survey (1122 repondents from three universities in Korea and one in the Middle East):

Very useful34.0%
Useful50.1%
Not very useful11.4%
Not useful at all4.5%

The results vary slightly from year to year, but generally 80-85% of the learners we survey find the site useful or very useful.  The site works, and the students know it.

How exactly does the program decide when I can start the next session? 

There are three rules that the program enforces:

  • You must wait at least eight hours between sessions.
  • You may do a maximum of six sessions per week.  Weeks start at midnight on Sunday morning.
  • You may only do one session per day.  However, you don't need to rush to finish before midnight, as there is some flexibility.  As long as you finish a day's session by 8:00 the following morning, it will be recorded as completed the previous day.

I finished Saturday's session early Sunday morning, but it was recorded as Sunday's session rather than Saturday's.  What happened? 

A session on Saturday would have violated the six-per-week rule.  Sessions completed early Sunday morning will be recorded as Saturday's if you haven't already done your six sessions for the previous week.

Can Praxis Ed provide customized lists of vocabulary? 

Yes, we can make tailored lists for teachers and language programs.  Simply give us the list of vocabulary you'd like your students to study (or give us the names of the course books you use in your class) and we can make the list available.  We can cover any words which are relatively high frequency words (among the 5000 most commonly used English words).

For teachers or programs requiring specialized lists of words that go beyond the 5000 most common words, we could still provide our services but we would need to negotiate a list with you and may require some time to prepare the word lists.

I would like my students to choose their own word lists to study.  How can I do this? 

When you create a class on Praxis Ed, you have the option of having your students study the word list you select, or you can allow them to choose their own list.  Go to Teachers » Classes, and in the advanced editing options, select no under the force list and coerce list options.  When students join the site, they will be prompted to choose the list they wish to study (Core, TOEIC, or University).

How do I follow the students' progress?  Do they get scores on the site? 

Following students' progress on the site is easy.  Simply go to Teachers » Progress Reports and you can see how many sessions each student has completed.  This is generally enough to see how the students are progressing.  There are no “scores” on the site.  To complete a vocabulary session, the student has to get all of the questions correct.  If the student makes a mistake, the program automatically adds review questions within the session and repeats the missed question.  This means that a student will have answered 100% of the questions correctly by the time (s)he finishes a session.

If you wish, you can get much more information on the students' progress on the site.  The detailed reports allow you see how much time the student spends on the site, how often they make mistakes, how they do according to the exercise type, and so on.

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