Need more positive reinforcement!
As a veteran teacher of children for more than 30 years, the pedagogy I learned affects all of my teaching and learning experiences. I love Duolingo, except for when I make a mistake, and see a heart drop down, and if I lose all my hearts and see the owl cry, with that plaintive musical accompaniment, it is most disconcerting. In fact, I hate it. As learning theory tells us, we respond best to positive rather than negative reinforcement. How about this: when we run out of hearts, the owl flaps its wings and happily says, "Try again!" I would certainly feel much better than I do seeing her in a pool of her own tears.
On the other hand, many learners here are asking for more options for competition ;)
I think many of us would be less 'heartbroken' if the hearts we lost were due to actual errors on our part, rather than an inability to 'guess what answer Duo wants,' having a correct answer denied, or facing questions Duo has not adequately prepared us to answer.
I agree with the comment about correct answers denied. It has happened several times for me, too. Also, when mistakes are made that are not relevant to the theme, such as an incorrect "o" or "a" ending on a word in the sentence, or the wrong article, I think there should be a different response, rather than getting the whole thing wrong. But again, if the mistakes of any kind were acknowledged in a more user friendly, rather than mildly castigating way, I wouldn't be such a stickler for details.
I think kelly.onei got it right in that it depends on the individual. Personally, I do not respond well to negative reinforcement. However, I rarely encounter the sad owl because I almost always do timed practices -- the only way you get that owl in timed practice is if you run completely out of time without getting a single question right. Otherwise, you get the usual trumpet sound and points for however many questions you answered correctly.
I have to say that I've actually been a little surprised at Duolingo's flexibility when translating a foreign phrase to English. I've found that I can word answers in a variety of ways and they're still counted as correct.
Thank you!! I have an advanced degree in Adult and Continuing Education and feel the same way. There is too much right or wrong grading. This is especially true when there is only one letter incorrect in the entire answer. The system should be rewarding efforts with positive reinforcement. Partial credit should be given for parts of the answer that are correct. When I am in country and I make an honest effort to speak their language, they appreciate my efforts and help me by suggesting improvement. The system knows which part of the answer is correct and not correct. It should be easy enough to grant partial credit while at the same time explaining why the answer is not 100% correct. Duolingo is a great method to learn a language, but just like all methods it can be improved.