Volume 19, Number 6
Can Educators and Researchers Really Work Together to Improve Learning?
New report proposes a national plan for education R&D
When Pat Morgan, mathematics coordinator for Oklahoma's Moore Independent School District, considered changing the middle school algebra curriculum, she knew she needed hard evidence to show teachers that any new program would really make a difference. So Morgan conducted an experiment in which 224 students switched to the Carnegie Learning Corporation's Cognitive Tutor Algebra I, which Morgan knew had been favorably rated by the U.S. Department of Education, and 220 students continued to receive traditional algebra instruction with the standard district-issued textbook.This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.
Knowing a little bit about research design, Morgan had all the participating algebra teachers teach both types of classes, thus controlling for any effects that teacher style or quality might have on student achievement. Using a standardized algebra post-test from the Educational Testing Service with both groups, Morgan found the Carnegie course to have significant benefits over the regular curriculum. Now she says all Algebra I classes in the Moore district, with the exception of honors sections (which were already succeeding under the original curriculum), study with Cognitive Tutor, and all algebra teachers in the district are enthusiastic supporters of the new program.