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2006Research Conference | June 15–16

This conference highlighted the work of invited speakers, independent researchers who have received grant funds from the Institute of Education Sciences, and trainees supported through predoctoral training grants and postdoctoral fellowships. The presentations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education or the Institute of Education Sciences.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
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Experimental Field Study of Cognitive Tutor Geometry Curriculum

John F. Pane, RAND Corporation
Laura S. Hamilton, RAND Corporation
Daniel F. McCaffrey, RAND Corporation

Abstract: This study will help to address a critical need for research-based mathematics curricula at the high school level. Cognitive Tutor Geometry, a curriculum that has shown promise in quasi-experimental studies, will be evaluated in a randomized controlled trial. This curriculum provides individualized instruction to address students' specific needs. Students spend 40 percent of class time using tutorial software built on a detailed cognitive model; remaining time is devoted to teacher-guided group work and problem solving.

The study is being conducted in high schools in Baltimore County Public Schools, an urban fringe district that serves students from a wide range of racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Two teachers in each school will teach geometry concurrently during two periods per day. One teacher is randomly assigned to teach Cognitive Tutor Geometry during the earlier period, and the other uses the school's existing geometry curriculum. During the later period the teachers switch curricula. In each case, students enrolled in geometry are randomly assigned to experimental or control classes. The study will run for two years in each participating school.

The study will collect pre/post achievement data, and survey students on other outcomes that may influence long-term achievement, such as mathematics confidence and attitudes, and career plans. The analysis strategy uses hierarchical linear models to estimate the impact of Cognitive Tutor Geometry on test scores in geometry and generalized mixed models to estimate the impact on dichotomous variables.