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PALMs User Manual



What is perceptual learning?

A characteristic of experts in any domain is that they selectively pick up relevant information, discover important patterns, and see key structure in new cases or situations. They are able to extract structure quickly and fluently with little effort, freeing up attention for higher-level problem solving. It had been thought that this kind of learning, known as perceptual learning, could not be systematically taught and could only be slowly acquired through experience.

However, from recent applied research we now know how to teach and accelerate the development of perceptual learning. This has been a crucial missing link in learning. In mathematics, for example, students are ordinarily taught facts, concepts, and procedures, but there have not been effective ways to teach students to SEE — to classify what they are looking at in novel situations, to know which procedures or facts are relevant, and to be able to process fluently so that basic information extraction does not overload complex problem solving.

You can read more about our research in these news sources.

What is adaptive learning?

Previous research has shown that, while studying, spacing your study over a longer period of time leads to enhanced long-term learning gains (think the opposite of cramming). But if those spaces are stretched too far, you can loose access to the information and disrupt the benefit. This means there is an ideal time to practice each item, and the problem is deciding when that time is. Insight solves this problem by carefully monitoring the learner's understanding of the material and tailoring the study schedule to the individual user.

Our patented adaptive learning algorithms take into account both accuracy and speed from previous trials to decide what to present next. Items that need more practice will return more frequently, creating a learning sessions tailored to the individual learner's needs. The status of individual items is automatically monitored, allowing for an objective standard of mastery to be set for every item. This ensures that all students in the classroom will reach the same level of proficiency.

What are learning modules?

PALMs (Perceptual and Adaptive Learning Modules), or modules for short, are advanced learning tools developed from perceptual learning research, designed to accelerate instruction in a particular learning domain. Each module is a web-delivered application that will run directly in your web browser.

These modules engage humans' natural capacities to recognize and process patterns and relationships through repeated interaction with the input. Students will complete many short, interactive problems, with immediate feedback provided each time. Modules are personalized for your learning speed and strengths, and Insight analyzes your learning data in order to optimize instruction.

What happens in a module?

When you use a module, you will solve a series of problems designed to increase your fluency and ease with the material being covered. Each problem must be answered within a certain time limit. After answering correctly, the module will display your reaction time. Getting a problem wrong, or taking too long on a problem, will prompt feedback about the correct answer.

Because all students have different learning needs, the module will work a little differently from person to person. Our modules adapt to each user based on his or her performance, and from that analysis decide which learning points to focus on and how much practice is necessary to reach optimal learning. Learning points are sub-topics of learning within a module, and the module tracks the user's progress on each learning point separately.

Once a user has fully demonstrated his or her mastery of a specific learning point, that learning point becomes mastered and appears less frequently, so that other learning points can be focused on. (In the module, this event will be marked by an increase in the user's "Mastery Level.") The user finishes the module once he or she masters every learning point.

Because students vary quite a bit, the amount of time needed to complete a module will also vary quite a bit. It is important to give slower students sufficient time to reach mastery. Although it may take them longer, they can nevertheless achieve the same level of proficiency as their peers. For a struggling student, this can be a very empowering experience.


What are subscriptions?

Learning modules are contained in apps. An app can consist of one or more learning modules. To use a learning module, you must subscribe to an app through Insight. Subscribing gives you unlimited access to a module(s) during the payment period. You can access your subscribed modules from any computer at any time, and when you log into the Insight website you will have access to all of your subscribed modules.

Subscriptions are not transferable and cannot be resold. Only one user can actively use an account at a time.

How to subscribe to an app:

  1. When you log into the Insight website, you will land on the dashboard.

  2. From there, click Insight Store in the upper right-hand corner. This will take you to the products page.

  3. From the products page, find the app you would like to subscribe to, then click the Buy a Subscription Plan button.

  4. You will now see purchasing options for your app. Some apps offer multiple subscription plans, or can be bundled with other apps. Choose a plan and click Select Plan.

  5. Enter your credit card information. Note that all transactions are handled by Stripe, and your credit card information is stored on Stripe's servers. Insight does not store your credit card information. For more information visit

  6. Click the Submit button.

  7. You will be redirected to the "My Apps" page, where your new app will be available for use.

How do I pay for my subscription?

Payments are processed using Stripe's secure payment services. All transactions are handled by Stripe, and your credit card information is stored on their server. Insight does not store your credit card number.

Stripe payments are safe and easy. They automatically come with Stripes's industry-proven fraud protection. For more information see:

How long do subscriptions last?

Subscriptions last for a period of one year and are automatically renewed. You will have unlimited access to your app while its subscription is active.

How do I cancel my subscription?

You can cancel your subscription at any time from your account settings page. When you cancel your subscription, you will still have full access to the app for the duration of the subscription period.

How to cancel a subscription:

  1. From the dashboard, click your name in the upper right-hand corner.

  2. Click Account Settings in the dropdown menu.

  3. Scroll down to the "Subscription Plans" section. You will see a table displaying information about your subscriptions.

  4. Find the subscription you wish to cancel and click Subscribed in the "Status" column. A small menu will appear with information about your subscription.

  5. Click Cancel This Subscription.

  6. A popup will appear asking you to confirm your decision. Click Yes, Cancel This Subscription.

Your subscription is now canceled. You will still have access to the app and its modules until the date listed in the "Cycle Ends On" column, but on that date you will loose access to the app and you will not be charged for a renewal.

Using Modules

System Requirements

In order to use a module you need a computer capable of accessing the internet. Some modules also require the Adobe Flash plugin (see individual product pages for more information). The most recent versions of the following web-browsers are supported (Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer). Please contact if you have trouble accessing a module.

Currently, only some of Insight's modules are accessible on iOS devices (iPhone and iPad). Please see individual product pages for more information. All of our modules can be accessed through a tablet capable of displaying Adobe Flash (e.g. Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab), via your device's web browser.

Mastery Criteria

As students become faster and more accurate at solving problems, they will be awarded the next mastery level in the module. Mastery levels are achieved by meeting certain speed and accuracy requirements (called mastery criteria). Students begin at level 0 and work their way up as they progress. Note that meeting the response time criteria for mastery should be comfortable for a student who has learned the material well — they won't need to race the clock. When students have mastered the most challenging problems at the highest mastery level, the software will congratulate them for having completed the whole module.

Progress Indicators

As students work with the module, they'll see progress indicators — usually a row of bubbles or a progress bar that fills as they advance through the mastery levels. After every 10-12 problems, students will also see a summary feedback screen that shows them their average accuracy and speed for previous blocks of items. Students generally take this feedback seriously and understand that the way to improve is to increase their accuracy while decreasing the amount of time they take to answer a problem.


After answering each problem, the student will see a message indicating whether or not their response was correct. If they answered incorrectly, the correct answer and the answer they selected will be highlighted in different colors. The student should mind this feedback as they use the module, as it will aid them in learning from their previous errors. Different forms of more elaborate feedback may also be employed, depending on the module. For more on module-specific feedback, see the instructions for the module you are using.

Refresher Mode

Some modules come with a feature called refresher mode. Once a student has completed the module, refresher mode will activate automatically. Refresher mode is a shortened version of the module that allows students to refresh their knowledge of the material after completion. The mastery criteria in this mode are less strict and students will progress through the material more quickly. If any of the problem types prove too challenging for just a refresher, the module will slow down and handle that learning point more fully.

Getting the Most Out of a Module

Avoid Account Sharing

The software used in our learning modules is based on principles of adaptive learning; they are designed to adapt in a unique way to each individual student based on his or her performance and progress to date in the module. Because of this, students should not work together on a module or share their accounts or login information with each other. Having more than one student working under the same account or having the same student accessing the module from different accounts will defeat some of the modules' most powerful learning features. If a student changes accounts midway through a module or if more than one student uses the same account, the software will not be able to track the performance history appropriately and the adaptive features will not work properly. Students can, however, use their unique account login to access the module from different computers.

Learning Over Multiple Sessions

Learning modules are designed to be completed over multiple sessions of about 20-40 minutes, spaced approximately one to three days apart. This feature, known as spaced study, is strongly supported by research on learning as a great way to make learning long-lasting. It is much more effective than "cramming" by trying to complete a module in one long session. Spacing multiple short study sessions over time is a much more efficient and effective method for maximizing the strength and durability of learning in less total time.

It is important for students to understand that the software is meant to be used over multiple sessions. Just as you need to play a video game repeatedly until you get good at it, so too do you need to work with the learning modules over multiple sessions spread across a number of days. You can help your student by planning and scheduling repeated sessions with the modules over a couple of weeks and communicating to your student that he or she isn't expected to complete the module in just one or two sessions.

Students will vary in the number of sessions it takes them to complete a module, but plan on multiple sessions — typically between 3 and 10 sessions. Some students already know more than others at the start of a module; some students work more quickly or persistently than others; and some modules may be longer or contain more complex content than others. Because the modules are adaptive, they continuously diagnose how accurate and fluent each student is for all types of learning items contained in the module.

Errors and Feedback

Students may make frequent errors at first — that is normal and is part of the learning process. On every problem the student will get immediate feedback that will help him or her identify errors and see the patterns that underlie correct responses. Most students start to self-correct as they gain experience, and this is how the learning modules are intended to work, so you shouldn't feel that you need to intervene too early, while your student is gaining experience with the module. It is not important to get every problem right from the beginning.

Some students may find it uncomfortable to make errors at first. You can reassure them that it's okay to make errors and that they can use the software to learn from their mistakes. The errors they make are between them and the computer, which won't judge them or grade them but will help guide them. Some students find it reassuring to think about this kind of learning as being similar to beginning a video game, practicing a sport, or learning to play a musical instrument. When acquiring a new skill like this, no one gets everything right from the beginning.

Response Time

An unusual feature of the learning modules is that they encourage students to respond relatively quickly, rather than achieving accuracy through a steadier pace. What's important in perceptual learning is to develop an eye for seeing what structures and relations are important in a problem, rather than engaging in long chains of calculations or problem solving. If a student is unable to respond quickly enough, the problem will time out and offer feedback on the correct answer. The amount of time available is relatively generous, so students should not feel that they are racing against the clock. However, they should expect to run out of time occasionally when they are first learning. Getting faster — becoming fluent — is a learning goal, and when students meet the module's mastery criteria, you (and they) can be sure that their performance is fully fluent. Because the learning trials are paced a bit like a video game, many students approach them with the same focus. You'll notice, though, that while the problems are timed until the student enters a response, feedback is available for as long as a student wants to look at it. Indeed, paying attention to feedback helps students make faster progress.

Score Reporter

What Is Score Reporter?

Score Reporter allows you to view a report of your student's scores in a module. You can view a wide range of performance information through Score Reporter, from overall progress down to performance on an individual problem.

Score Reporter is accessed separately for each module. Because Score Reporter is module-specific, you will sometimes find extra features while using it for a certain module. The instructions below are generalized to all versions of Score Reporter, and detail what you will find while using Score Reporter for any module.

Student Scores

Modules work by having students revisit an item or a learning point when it would be most beneficial for learning. That optimal time is determined by a calculation involving a student's accuracy and response time while answering a question. These are key types of data that you will be viewing in Score Reporter.

  • Accuracy is simply whether a question has been answered correctly or incorrectly. Percentages come into play when talking about average accuracy on an Assessment or for a learning point. If a student correctly answered 8 out of 10 Assessment problems, their accuracy for that Assessment would be 80%.

  • Response Time, or response speed, is how quickly a student answers a question (in seconds). Average response times are often displayed in Score Reporter, such as average response time in the last block of problems or average response time within a learning point.

You can use these data to see your student's strengths and weaknesses. Higher accuracy and lower response times indicate that your student is becoming more fluent with a concept.

Navigating Score Reporter

Score Reporter opens at the most general level of information. As you navigate you will find more detailed and specific information. When you open Score Reporter, you will find yourself on the Overview tab. There are four tabs in total: Overview, Assessments, Learning History, and Learning Points.

Overview Tab

This tab gives you a brief glimpse at your student's progress in the module. Under Learning Module you will see their current Mastery Level and their percent completion in the module. Remember that the percent of the module completed does not reflect how many problems a student has answered, but rather how many learning points he or she has mastered. You will also see how many sessions they have completed, how many problems they have completed, and how much time they have spent using the module. A session is a set of problems answered with no more than 60 minutes between any two individual problems. If 61 minutes elapse between answering two adjacent questions, the second question is in a new session. (Note: Length of time used to calculate sessions may be different for certain modules.)

Under First to More Recent Assessment Comparison, you will see a quick verbal comparison of the first assessment your student took to the most recent one. Here you can quickly see whether Accuracy and Response Speed have improved, worsened, or stayed the same since before a student began using the module. You will only see this section if your student has taken at least one assessment.

Assessments Tab

Each assessment that a student takes will be recorded and displayed as a table on this tab. From these tables you can see the content of each problem that your student answered, as well as his or her performance on that individual problem in terms of accuracy and response time. For more on assessments see section 3.5. You will not see this tab if your student has not taken any assessments.

Learning History Tab

Here you will find a table with a list of every problem your student has answered while using the module. For each problem you will see:

  • the Problem Number, indicating the order in which your student answered the problems.

  • the Learning Point, indicating which learning point this particular problem falls under.

  • the Problem Description, which details the exact text of the problem along with the correct answer.

  • your student's Accuracy while answering (correct or incorrect).

  • your student's Response Time, or how quickly they answered the problem.

Clicking on a row in the table will open that problem in a new window, so you can try the problem yourself.

Learning Points Tab

Students progress in the module by showing that they've mastered certain categories, or learning points, in the material. While the Learning History tab allows you to view your student's performance on each individual question, the Learning Points tab gives you a broader view by showing how your student is performing on individual learning points. This can be useful for pinpointing your student's strengths and weaknesses.

  • Performance Averages for Learning Points – This table shows two pieces of information for each learning point: the number of Attempts made (how many times your student has answered a problem under this learning point) and his or her Average Accuracy (what percent of those attempts were answered correctly).

  • Learning Point Status – This table shows the "status" for each mode: active, mastered, or unseen.

    • Until your student has answered at least one problem under a learning point, that learning point is listed as Unseen. All learning points are Unseen before a student begins the module.

    • Active learning points are what your student is currently learning. The problems your student encounters while using the module come from these learning points. When the next problem under a particular learning point will appear depends on your student's prior performance with that learning point. Learning Points with this status are denoted by the symbol of a hand with a pen:

    • Once a student has thoroughly demonstrated their understanding of a learning point, that learning point becomes "Mastered," and students encounter problems from under that learning point less frequently. This status is denoted by a check mark:


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