Help on screen;GSCE Revision;Secondary;Books

Ian Wilson

TEST FOR SUCCESS MATHS (11-14). GCSE Maths. Dorling Kindersley Acacia pound;19.99.

There are many CD-Roms that offer help with GCSE revision or with key stage 3. Can Dorling Kindersley, producers of some excellentmultimedia products, offer anything new?

The first thing you notice is that the large packaging contains only the disks - there are no manuals. Installing is easy, but after that you have to rely on the on-screen help. On the KS3 disk, this comes in the form of video clips which explain the purpose of the different areas of the program. On the GCSE disk, you simply get little versions of the relevant pages.

Both disks offer ways of cust-omising the work for a student, by choosing topics and levels.

The GCSE disk contains key facts. After a student has completed tests related to a particular area, strengths and weaknesses are indicated next to the relevant facts. There are also examples of past paper questions linked to the topics. But you cannot work directly on these questions, only print them out. Students can construct their own tests based on topics sorted by attainment target. Explanations of the answers are good, if repetitive. The section giving hints on revision techniques is helpful, even though the advice is rather general.

The KS3 disk contains rather less. It is really a collection of questions with feedback to students limited to an explanation of the answer. It would have been better to offer feedback when students persistently give wrong answers. The questions at the higher levels can be quite difficult, going up to GCSE higher levels.

Apart from the video help clips, there is little use of multimedia, and the KS3 disk, despite endorsement by a well-known juggler of vowels and consonants, is disappointing.

Ian Wilson is head of Woodcote High School, Croydon, south London

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