Are we saying goodbye to the comeback kid?

I was watching my kids play Angry Birds the other day when I noticed how quickly they went for the restart button.

Restart Level
Restart Level

When they didn’t get the first bird to land just the right way they bailed out of the level and started over.

I wonder. Are today’s kids less likely to make a comeback?

I’m all for trial and error and learning from your mistakes. Yet, I wonder if a penalty-free restart sends the right message. This has got me thinking about my students who ask if they can retake a quiz. Should I let them restart their assessments? Right now, assessment retakes become a logistical nightmare if you let everyone have do-overs but this will change as more and more assessments go digital?

Let’s assume that we have an unlimited supply of assessments. These are the questions I have:

  • When, if ever, should we allow students to restart an assessment?
  • If they restart, should the restart be penalty-free?
  • Should there be a limit to the number of restarts a student can take?

One thought on “Are we saying goodbye to the comeback kid?

  1. With the magic of random number generators, I have an essentially unlimited number of practice and assessment problems. I don’t allow students to restart an assignment they haven’t finished, but I do allow students to reassess (I require students to reassess until they pass). At some point, the payoff for restarting in quest of the perfect score on a low level is smaller than the payoff for attempting a higher level, whether you’re talking about classroom tests on Angry Birds. This is an opportunity cost issue, rather than a diminishing returns in points issue for my students, because they can’t delay starting the next unit to perfect the current unit: after the unit test, they can’t spend class time on reassessing because they have new standards to work on.

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