Pearson Mastering: Competentum Accuracy Checking Case Study

Photo by Michel Kalff

Pearson Mastering knows Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) books and related learning products demand content accuracy that ranges from establishing a correct theoretical foundation to maintaining proper spelling, grammar, and figure labeling.

If STEM instructors and students notice accuracy lapses in Pearson’s products, it causes a loss of confidence and a loss of business for Pearson. In this case study you will learn how Competentum’s Accuracy Checking team works with Pearson on STEM projects, eliminating errors and delivering excellence at a competitive cost.


Multi-Pass Accuracy Checking

STEM Accuracy checking is not a “one and done” effort. Instead, along with industry practitioners as well as other instructors teaching that discipline, teams of third-party subject matter experts review content in multiple passes to identify and eliminate issues. When a review pass has been completed, the set of issues is returned to the STEM author. The author may then modify the content, and re-issue it for another review pass. It will take two, and sometimes three passes to perfect complex STEM material.

This process works best when the author and the accuracy checking team find the right balance of antagonistic analysis and collegial collaboration, and common outlook. As an example, for accuracy checking on the projects, Pearson told Competentum:


The author asked me to pass along his appreciation and thanks for the detailed feedback.


Multiple Vendors Improve Accuracy Checking Results

Pearson commonly uses a multi-vendor approach to accuracy checking. The purpose of this is to give an author multiple expert points of view on his or her work. The vendor’s subject matter expert teams work autonomously to develop independent points of view. When experts from different teams report similar errors, an author is more likely to be persuaded to make changes and corrections.

Feedback on a recent accuracy checking project was clear.


Some very good catches, showing once again that two or three pairs of eyes are better than one.


As a successful STEM accuracy checking partner, Competentum deploys a range of talent that covers subject area theory, mathematical reasoning, formulae checking, consistent use of mathematical notation, accuracy of equations and calculations, clear diagram labeling, and typos, spelling, and grammar.


How Competentum Became an Accuracy Checker

Competentum earned its place as an accuracy checking partner of Pearson from its work authoring questions on an earlier STEM project. In so doing, the question-authoring team provided Pearson and the author with thorough feedback. When the next edition of the text was under development, Pearson and the author asked Competentum to become an accuracy checker. Today, Competentum focuses on new authorship as well as changes to inherited work.


Competentum’s Challenges, Approach, and Results

What are the challenges of STEM accuracy checking? Theoretical and mathematical checks are most difficult and both the author’s and checker’s work must be scrutinized. Checkers must be as knowledgeable in the STEM subject as the author.

Competentum is timeline-focused, as maintaining an accuracy checking timeline is challenging. New or revised texts must be available for publishing in time for semester starts, or they will not be adopted for use. Pearson recognized our ability to manage timelines, with a Content Manager saying:


I'm very happy with the results. Thank you very much for completing the review and fixes ahead of schedule. This is fantastic and will enable me to publish the items into assignments that haven't started yet without any customer impact. That's really the best result I could have asked for.



Accuracy Checking Approach

A typical accuracy timeline is three months for completing two review passes. Competentum will assign a team leader and four subject matter experts. In the first pass, two work on theory and two check details and problems. The team leader checks the work of all, validates comments, and prepares progress reporting. In the second pass, the checking pair’s roles are reversed, so no one checks the same work twice. If grammar errors are found, the experts report them throughout their efforts.

Typical Results

In STEM, later chapters are more challenging to review, as they build on the learning in earlier chapters. However, these chapter averages give insight into what Competentum’s accuracy checkers find.

Error / Issue Type

Count per Chapter

Minor theoretical mistakes, including numerical mistakes in examples


Mislabeled figures / equations and incorrect references. Note: this count would be much higher if figure numbering breaks throughout the chapter due to an incorrect labeling of an figure or equation

5 - 10

Suggestions on changes in wording


Typos and punctuation


Table 1 - Per Chapter Error - Issue Counts

Pearson’s Senior Editor said:


I continue to be pleased at what your checkers are catching - sometimes catching things I miss but in general attuned to the same issues, so that often I can say to the author that a particular item bothered both me and your team. Which makes it more likely that he will address it.


While many chapters have no serious errors in theory, finding a major error may require the rewrite of an entire section.



To err is certainly human, but comprehensive accuracy checking, as delivered by Competentum for Pearson, identifies errors for correction and elimination, and does so in a timely manner. As a learning company, Pearson aim is to improve the teaching and learning experience of their users. The bottom line is clear. Educational institutions use Pearson STEM books because they are accurate, consistent, clear, and are delivered on time.

To find out more about how Competentum can be your trusted accuracy checking partner, contact us by filling the form on our website or write to us on [email protected]


About Pearson

Pearson, founded in 1844, is the world’s learning company, with 35,000 employees across 70 countries worldwide. Pearson is known for their expertise in courseware and assessment, and for a range of teaching and learning services powered by technology.

About Competentum

Today Competentum Group is a global industry leader with over twenty years of experience. Over the years, the company has proved itself as a turnkey education technology provider. Loyal to the tradition, the team sees its goal in creating innovative educational products of the highest quality.

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