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IES Grant

Title: Efficacy Study of AnimalWatch: An Intelligent Tutoring System for Pre-Algebra
Center: NCER Year: 2009
Principal Investigator: Schneider, Steve Awardee: WestEd
Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years Award Amount: $2,698,814
Goal: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A090197
Description:

Co-Principal Investigator: Carole Beal (University of Arizona)

Purpose: Algebra is considered a critical "gatekeeper" mathematics course for high school graduation and college enrollment, but many students continue to struggle with algebra and failure rates are high. Often, the problem is that students have not yet mastered the prerequisite computation, fractions, and algebra readiness skills necessary to successfully solve algebraic problems. One potential way to improve student mathematics achievement and prepare students for algebra may be through the use of intelligent tutoring systems. In this study, the researchers are evaluating the efficacy of the AnimalWatch System, a computer-based intelligent tutor that is designed to provide individualized tutoring for students in pre-algebra. The AnimalWatch System was developed with support from a previous IES Goal 2 Development grant (R305K050086).

Project: The AnimalWatch System is a computer-based intelligent tutoring program that provides students in pre-algebra classes the opportunity for individualized guided practice, immediate feedback, and practice to increase computational fluency. The efficacy of the AnimalWatch System will be evaluated using a block-randomized design with teachers in grade 6 randomly assigned to the treatment and control condition within schools. The teachers assigned to the treatment condition will teach their standard math curriculum with the AnimalWatch System replacing specific lesson topics. Teachers in the control condition will teach their students using the standard curriculum without the AnimalWatch System.

Products: The products of this project will be evidence of the efficacy of the AnimalWatch System for students in grade 6 and published reports.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The settings for this study are urban school districts in California.

Population: The study sample will consist of 70 grade 6 teachers and their students.

Intervention: The AnimalWatch System includes multiple components that are designed to build students' proficiency with pre-algebra mathematics operations, with a specific focus on word problems and basic skills. The AnimalWatch System was designed on the basis of three principles that are predicted to improve mathematics achievement: (1) individualized guided practice, (2) immediate feedback to support self-correction and transfer, and (3) increased computational fluency. The system is accessed via the Internet and is designed primarily for use as a supplement to reinforce classroom instruction. Embedded within the system for each lesson is a content index that lists primary and secondary learning objectives. Teachers use the learning objectives of each lesson to select which activities in the standard curriculum will be replaced by activities using the AnimalWatch System.

Research Design and Methods: The study will use a block-randomized design with teachers randomly assigned to the treatment and control condition within schools. A total of 35 teachers will be assigned to the treatment condition and 35 teachers to the control condition. The teachers assigned to the treatment condition will teach their standard math curriculum with the AnimalWatch System replacing specific lesson topics. Implementation of the AnimalWatch System will be monitored through the collection of survey data from teachers in both treatment and control classrooms and from observational data from a sample of classrooms.

Control Condition: Teachers in the control condition will teach their grade 6 students using the standard curriculum in place at the school without the AnimalWatch System.

Key Measures: Student achievement in mathematics, the key outcome measure in the study, will be measured by the California Standards Test (CST) in mathematics and the California Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Program's (MDTP) pre-algebra readiness assessment.

Data Analytic Strategy: The primary analyses will involve fitting conditional mixed effects ANCOVA models (hierarchical or multilevel models) with an additional term to account for the nesting of students within classrooms within schools. The three-level hierarchical linear model will be used to estimate the impact of the AnimalWatch System on students' mathematics achievement.

Project Website: http://www.animalwatch.arizona.edu/

Related IES Projects: AnimalWatch: An Intelligent Tutoring System for Grade 6 Mathematics (R305K050086)


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