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The Uncertain Role of Educational Software in Remediating Student Learning

What is the potential of educational software for remediation?

Educators must balance the need to remediate students who are performing behind grade level with their obligation to teach grade-appropriate content to all. Educational software programs could help them strike this balance by incorporating below-grade-level content into an existing curriculum, allowing students to learn at their own pace while remaining in the same classroom as their peers. If effective, this practice could save school systems the high costs of more intensive remedial interventions like high-dosage tutoring, summer school, extra coursework, and grade retention.

How did this study examine the effectiveness of educational software for remediating below-grade-level students?

This study estimates the causal effects of providing low-performing students in grades 3-6 with below-grade-level math content via an online software program. Students who scored below a designated cutoff on a prior-year math assessment were assigned a modified version of the software program. The modified software included below-grade-level content before the grade-level material. Students who scored above the cutoff received only the grade-level curriculum. We examined whether receiving the modified curriculum affected students’ completion of grade-level learning objectives, pre- and post-objective quiz scores, and math test scores

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Which Students Benefit from Computer-Based Individualized Instruction? Experimental Evidence from Public Schools in India

Does computer-based individualized instruction boost math learning?

 Yes. In public schools in Rajasthan, India, students who scored in the bottom 25% of their class improved by 22% of a standard deviation in math test scores (top chart). However, the average student in grades 6-8 who had access to individualized instruction did not outperform those who did not over nine months. Our results suggest that computer-based individualized instruction is most beneficial for low performers.

What is computer-based individualized instruction?

 We provided all students with a computer-adaptive math learning software called “Mindspark.” When students first log in, they take a diagnostic test, which identifies what they know and can do, and the areas in which they can improve. Then, the software presents them with exercises appropriate for their preparation level based on the diagnostic test. The difficulty and topic covered by subsequent exercises dynamically adjust to each student’s progress.

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Raising Teacher Retention in Online Courses through Personalized Support. Evidence from a Cross-national Randomized Controlled Trial

Davide Azzolini, Sonia Marzadro, Enrico Rettore, Katja Engelhardt, Benjamin Hertz, Patricia Wastiau

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Does providing teachers with personalized support help them complete online training courses?

Yes, but not for all and not everywhere. The TeachUP policy experimentation found large effects of personalized support on course completion in nine European Union Member States among professional (i.e., in-service) teachers (+10.6 percentage points), but not among student teachers. Moreover, no effects are found in Turkey. More studies are needed to investigate the contextual and learner characteristics that drive the heterogeneous effects.

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Using a Factorial Design to Maximize the Effectiveness of a Parental Text Messaging Intervention

Catherine Armstrong Asher, Ethan Scherer, James S. Kim

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What features of text messaging campaigns for early elementary families might increase their effectiveness?

Text messaging interventions are an increasingly popular way to support students and their families. We compared how three features of text messages, sent to parents, affect the reading behavior and test scores of their early elementary school children:

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Technology-assisted Vocabulary Learning for EFL Learners: A Meta-analysis

Tao Hao, Zhe Wang, Yuliya Ardasheva

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A core component to learning a second language (L2) is vocabulary acquisition. New technologies have the potential to substantially improve vocabulary acquisition. Technological activities can elicit L2 learners’ interest, provide more verbal and multimedia exposure to the target language, and present opportunities to interact with the target language using various technological devices.

Study Inclusion Criteria

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Examining the Impact of QuickReads Technology and Print Formats on Fluency, Comprehension, and Vocabulary Development for Elementary Students

Summary by: Yining Hua

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What is QuickReads Technology? Is it effective?

QuickReads (QR) is a curriculum that uses science and social studies texts to build reading skills. It has both print-only and technology + print formats and utilizes 15-minute instructional sessions built on a model with wide and long-lasting support in comprehension instruction. This study finds that QR enhanced students’ reading skills in all evaluated areas: reading fluency, reading comprehension, and vocabulary. The figure shows the outcome of the reading comprehension assessment. The three bars within each grade group represent students who 1) did not use QR (control), 2) used QR print materials, and 3) used QR technology-based and printed materials, respectively (from left to right). Across all grades, QR effectively enhanced students reading fluency.

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Investigating Efficacy, Moderators, and Mediators for an Online Mathematics Homework Intervention

Summary by: Muqi Guo

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ASSISTments is an online math homework intervention developed to target formative assessment. Teachers and students can assign, do, and review homework using the ASSISTments platform. While doing homework in ASSISTments students receive immediate feedback on their work, opportunities to improve their answers, and hints and tutorials for select problems. Teachers receive a report that identifies which assigned homework problems were difficult for students, along with common wrong answers.

What are the impacts of the ASSISTments intervention?

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