Education Week - Sizing Up: Blended Learning - (Page S31)
said John Pane, a senior scientist
at RAND and the study's lead author.
"But generalizing from that to
other blended learning curricula
is a risky move. And while many
people may be tempted to do that,
the devil is in the details of any
blended learning curriculum."
When it comes to Cognitive
Tutor, those details are not all
that revolutionary, at least within
the scope of the field of blended
learning, which has gained most of
its traction in the past half-dozen
Ms. Brierley's Algebra 1 class-
room, and many others that use
the program, functions squarely
within the commonly used "station
rotation" blended learning model,
which is seen more often in the elementary
and middle grades.
After a brief pencil-and-paper
warm-up, her second-period class
divides into two groups of about a
dozen students each. One group of
students turns to a problem from a
textbook, with clusters of students
working together at desks, while
members of the other group migrate
to the laptop cart in the classroom's
corner, take a device back to
their desk, log in to their Cognitive
Tutor software accounts, and tackle
problems tailored to each student's
learning progress. After 35 minutes
or so, the groups switch tasks.
"It does free [teachers] up to
be more of a troubleshooter than
anything," said Ms. Brierley, an
18-year teaching veteran who has
spent the last third of her career
working with Cognitive Tutor. "It
gives [students] an opportunity to
be independent and work through
things and sometimes work things
out in their head without us telling
them what they should be
But Cognitive Tutor has some
notable nuances for a station-rotation
model. Among them, both the
print text and the software come
from the same provider. So while
some students may reach concepts
in print first, and others first encounter
them online, the terminology
and theory behind teaching
concepts remains constant.
Both branches of the curriculum
also stress the manipulation
of numbers and variables. The
text features perforated tearaway
pages so students scribble in or
alongside charts and equations
rather than on separate scrap
paper. (This also means a district
implementing the curriculum has
the added expense of purchasing
new textbooks every year.) The
software requires students to set
their own bounds for graphs and
tables and type key information
from paragraph-length word problems
into charts before answering
a series of questions all based on
the same scenario.
Perhaps most importantly, the
curriculum has undergone an endless
evolution since its launch as
Carnegie Learning's first product
in 1998 and is modeled around
research on human cognition conducted
by Carnegie Mellon University,
in Pittsburgh, which at one
time owned a stake in the company.
"It is built on a very well-con-
sidered theory of cognition and
has been assembled over decades
into what it is now," Mr. Pane said.
"That's quite in contrast with the
great vast set of education technology/blended
that are out there that are ad hoc."
It's worth noting that RAND re-
stricted Carnegie Learning's employees
in their interaction with
A study found that the math
scores of high school students
using Cognitive Tutor improved
significantly during the second
year that schools implemented
the program. That growth was
equivalent to moving a student
from the 50th percentile to the
58th percentile of performance.
(See more details on page 32.)
Typical math learning
9th grade, according
to other studies.
The SAM process gives
principals the time to do
evaluation right with frequent
coaching to improve teaching.
SAM principals are "shadowed"
to determine their use of time.
They use TimeTrack™ to
increase time with teachers and
First Responders™ so they are
not the first person called for every
management issue. The SAM Daily
Meeting is a reflective practice and planning session
to maximize positive impact.
schools in the study, to ensure
schools did not receive an unusual
level of assistance in implementing
the curriculum. In other words,
the study suggests those secondyear
results stem from a range of
real-world conditions, where some
schools and some teachers are implementing
the program in more
effective ways than others.
That's essential in a district like
the 78,000-student Anne Arundel
County, where every Algebra
1 classroom has used Cognitive
Tutor since 2009, but not every
teacher is as enamored with the
program as Ms. Brierley.
While the expectation is for students
to spend 30 to 40 minutes of
class time twice a week working on
the curriculum's computer component,
some teachers barely meet
the minimum time requirement,
said Amy Smith, the district's coordinator
of secondary mathematics.
Others, meanwhile, allow more
class time and encourage students
to use the program during study
halls or after school, she said.
Teachers' responses range from
"excellent fidelity," Ms. Smith said,
to "'I'm checking the box-yep, I
put them on'" the computer.
Inevitably, challenges related to
Severna Park High School
freshman Hannah White,
puts away her laptop at the
end of her algebra class as
her teacher, Mary Brierley,
talks to students.
Ms. Brierly says the
Cognitive Tutor math
program used in her class
encourages students to
take the initiative to work
with SAMs .
Proven to increase
time spent to
NSIP provides ongoing SAM coaching, implementation
and professional development support for over 700
schools in 17 states.
Denver, Charlotte, Boston and Tampa, have made the
SAM process the center of their support for principals.
You can too.
Better with SAMs™.
*Note: The math gains were measured in standardized effect sizes-
roughly an additional .20 for Cognitive Tutor, a gain that the RAND Corp.
study authors describe as "educationally significant."
Source: RAND Corp.
EDUCATION WEEK: SIZING UP BLENDED LEARNING > www.edweek.org/go/blended-learning JANUARY 29, 2014 | S31
Education Week - Sizing Up: Blended Learning
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - Sizing Up: Blended Learning
Education Week - January 29, 2014
Ruling Raises Internet-Access Concerns
Cheating Case Implicates Phila. Educators
Graduation Disparities Loom Large
Business Groups Defend Common Standards
News in Brief
Common Science Standards Are Slow to Catch On in States
Surge in Charter Schools Stirs Concerns in North Carolina
Blogs of the Week
Turnaround Program Receives Makeover In Budget Deal
Some Waiver States Feeling Common-Core Test Pinch
Needy Students, Tech Disparities at Issue
Blogs of the Week
Advocates Welcome New Federal Aid Aimed at Youngest
Collective-Bargaining Case Takes Spotlight at High Court
ANNA E. BARGAGLIOTTI: Statistics: The New ‘It’ Common-Core Subject
BEN ZIMMER & DANIELLA ROHR: Funding Students, Not Bureaucracies, For Early-Childhood Education
CLARKE L. RUBEL: Talking About a Reformation
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
LYNETTE TANNIS: Twice Punished: Education’s ‘Invisible’ Incarcerated Youths
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