WWC review of this study

Cognitive Tutor Algebra I: Evaluation of results (1993–1994).

Wolfson, M., Koedinger, K., Ritter, S., & McGuire, C. (2008). Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Learning, Inc.

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
    , grades

Reviewed: June 2016

At least one finding shows promising evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Algebra outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Multiple Representations Test

Cognitive Tutor® Algebra I vs. Business as usual

9 Months

Grades 9-12;
117 students




More Outcomes

Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test (IAAT)

Cognitive Tutor® Algebra I vs. Business as usual

9 Months

Grades 9–12;
247 students





Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 60% Free or reduced price lunch

  • Female: 56%
  • Race

  • Urban
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The study took place in three high schools (Langley, Brashear, and Carrick) in the Pittsburgh Public Schools District. In the study schools, 50% of the student body were African American, 50% came from one-parent families, and 15% went on to attend college.

Study sample

Among the full study sample, 34% were African American, 56% were female, and 60% were eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Sixty-five percent of the sample were in the ninth grade, 24% were in the tenth grade, 8% were in the eleventh grade, and 2% were in the twelfth grade.

Intervention Group

Students in the intervention group were taught in the 1993–94 school year using an early version of the Cognitive Tutor® software, then referred to as the Pittsburgh Urban Mathematics Project curriculum plus Practical Algebra Tutor program (PUMP + PAT). The curriculum emphasized the use of functional models, such as tables, graphs, and symbols, to solve real-world problems. Students in the intervention group used the tutoring software in about 25 of the 180 class periods; therefore, this early version varies from the current version of Cognitive Tutor®, which uses software for about 40% of instructional time.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison group were taught using their schools’ traditional Algebra I curricula, which were not specified in the study.

Support for implementation

No information was provided about the training or support offered to implement the intervention.

In the case of multiple manuscripts that report on one study, the WWC selects one manuscript as the primary citation and lists other manuscripts that describe the study as additional sources.

  • Koedinger, K. R., Anderson, J. R., Hadley, W. H., & Mark, M. A. (1997). Intelligent tutoring goes to school in the big city. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education, 8(1), 30–43.

  • Carnegie Learning, Inc. (2001). Report of results from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Cognitive Tutor research report PA-91-01). Pittsburgh, PA: Author.

Reviewed: April 2007

Study sample characteristics were not reported.

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