Thoughts from a reflective educator.
Richard DeMerchant shared this study with me today. It is a review of studies done in mathematics education research, specifically 189 studies which used good research practices. Here are the key findings from this review.
"Programs designed to change daily teaching practices – particularly through the use of cooperative learning, classroom management, and motivations programs – have larger impacts on student achievement than programs that emphasize textbooks or technology alone.
The most successful math programs encourage student interaction."
An interesting finding of the study was "there was very little evidence that it mattered which curriculum was used, as none of the curricula showed any strong evidence of effectiveness." In other words, a focus on changing curriculum isn't going to have much of an impact on improving student understanding of mathematics.
This finding to me suggests that Bill Gates attempts to use the Khan Academy as a replacement for teachers are particularly misguided. At least Sal has come out and indicated that he doesn't see himself as a replacement for a teacher.
In the 40 qualifying studies [of computer assisted learning programs] that looked at these various programs, there was little evidence of effectiveness. No program stood out as having large and replicated effects, and computer managed learning systems were particularly ineffective.
The implications for mathematics education, as the authors state, are as follows:
One of the things I love about this study is the list of programs found to be effective, along with contact information (or a link to a website) so that you can follow up and try out these programs. There is also a list of programs for which the research that exists does not meet the reviewer's qualifications for inclusion, and a list of programs which the reviews found to the research suggests are ineffective.
What implications does this have for your math program?
David is a mathematics teacher and a learning specialist for technology at Stratford Hall in Vancouver, BC. He has been teaching since 2002, and has worked in Brooklyn, London, and Bangkok before moving back to Canada. He has his Masters degree in Educational Technology from UBC, and is the co-author of a mathematics textbook. He has been published in ISTE's Leading and Learning, Educational Technology Solutions, The Software Developers Journal, The Bangkok Post and Edutopia. He blogs with the Cooperative Catalyst, and is the Assessment group facilitator for Edutopia. He has also helped organize the first Edcamp in Canada, and TEDxKIDS@BC.