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Put yourself in the position of a learner …

You are following a workbook exercise using Excel. You’ve put the formula in, and entered the data. But something is wrong the number you’ve got is different to the workbook.

• Option 1: You put your hand up. The class is interrupted and your learning is on hold until the tutor ends up working through the problem with you. It might be any number of issues.
• Option 2: You check and re-write each bit of the formula, checking each bit as you go along. This takes quite a bit of time and of course you still might be making the same sort of mistake again and again. You might end up trying option 1!
• Option 3: Your school has EQUS installed and running. Whenever a formula is selected, the breakdown of the computation with intermediate values is shown immediately. For example, you can see that the answer is wrong because a negation was missed. You edit the formula, make the correction and this time the answer is right and you see the slip is fixed. [You fixed it!]

Naturally, option 3 will not fix every problem, the tutor may still need to help. However, some of the time getting stuck examining an error or mistake will be saved. Some learners will be able to see what is going on and fix it. And in that time, the tutor will be free help others who need more support.

One simple example of EQUS is if you select the formula =5-(0.26*3+0.34*2), it immediately shows:

Earlier we conducted an analysis comparing option 2 and option 3, shows time the saved with EQUS is dramatic. What we’ve not quantified is how EQUS helps independent learning, the tutor and the class as whole.