WWC review of this study

Effectiveness of "Enhanced Units": A Report of a Randomized Experiment in California and Virginia. Research Report

Jaciw, Andrew P.; Zacamy, Jenna; D'Apice, Hannah; Lin, Li; Kwong, Connie; Schellinger, Adam M. (2019). Empirical Education Inc. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED603235

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grades

Reviewed: October 2022

At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Academic achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Biology and U.S. History Combined

Enhanced Units (EU) vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
567 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 8% English language learners

  • Other or unknown: 100%

  • Rural, Suburban, Town, Urban
    • B
    • A
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    California, Virginia
  • Race
    Native American
    Other or unknown
    Pacific Islander
    Two or more races
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
  • Eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch
    Free or reduced price lunch (FRPL)    
    No FRPL    


The study was conducted in 18 biology classes and 12 U.S. History classes in five high schools in three school districts in Virginia and California during the 2017-2018 school year. The schools were chosen from school districts that used data from the Strategic Instructional Network (SIM). Each of them had previously purchased SIM materials, had teachers trained in the use of some of the SIM routines and strategies; had a certified SIM trainer available; and identified a staff ‘champion’ for the study. One school was in a rural setting, one was in a town, two were in suburban settings, and one was in an urban setting. There were 13 teachers (7 biology and 6 U.S. History). To be eligible, teachers must have been teaching biology in grades 9-12 or U.S. history in grade 11. The school districts selected were chosen based on a convenience sample.

Study sample

School-level data for the five participating schools, drawn from publicly available 2017-2018 NCES data, are reported by the authors. About 8 percent of students were English language learners (based on district data). Approximately 12 percent of students had an IEP (based on district data). One-third (33%) of students were low socioeconomic status. Over half (52%) of students were White, with 17 percent Asian, 12 percent Hispanic, 12 percent Black, 5 percent multiracial or did not respond, 0.5 percent Pacific Islander, and 0.2 percent American Indian/Native Alaskan.

Intervention Group

Enhanced Units is an intervention that aims to integrate research-based content enhancement routines with technological enhancements to improve student content learning and higher order reasoning, especially for students with disabilities or other learning challenges. It combines multiple research-based routines and technology (specifically a Google application called ‘Co-organize your learning’ or CORGI). There are two key components to the intervention: 1) teachers receive sufficient support to implement the intervention, and 2) teachers increase their implementation of, adherence to, and quality of intervention instructional practices. These two components are intended to influence teacher classroom use of Strategic Instruction Model (SIM) instructional practices, which should then increase student collaboration and critical thinking in U.S. History and biology, which would in turn increase achievement on biology and U.S. History assessments, especially among special education students.

Comparison Group

The comparison condition was business as usual.

Support for implementation

Participating teachers were trained in implementing the intervention and received coaching throughout the school year. Professional development included three days of in-person professional development, which were divided into three sessions per school district. Each school district conducted the professional development independent of the other districts. At least 8 hours of coaching from SIM professional developers were providing throughout the year as ongoing coaching. Participating teachers implemented one practice intervention unit and two units that were included as study interventions. The EU professional development was observed in one school district by study researchers. Teachers completed daily implementation logs to record their use of the various EU routines in their daily instruction. Teachers also answered questions about whether routines had been used, intentionally or unintentionally, in the business as usual classrooms.


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