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Evidence suggests that the interactive classroom model works

A four-year, $3 million study funded by the Institute of Education Sciences and the U.S. Department of Education found that Algebra I students whose teachers used TI-Navigator networked classroom technology achieved higher math test scores and were more confident in their math abilities.

Researchers gathered data on 127 Algebra I teachers and 1,128 students from 28 states. Students whose teachers used the Navigator system scored 14 percentage points higher on a custom Algebra I test on average, compared with students whose teachers did not use the system.

Another research project—the Classroom Connectivity in Mathematics and Science Project, based at Ohio State University (OSU)—focused on the impact of technology, accompanied by strong professional development, on student achievement.

Researchers hypothesized that with the help of technology integration supported by teacher professional development, students in a classroom where the teacher used a TI-Navigator system would perform better on a post-test than students in a control classroom.

The longitudinal study included more than 4,000 students over four years, said Douglas Owens, an OSU professor and principal investigator on the project. Teachers were randomly assigned to either a TI-Navigator classroom or to a control classroom.

A large part of formative assessment is revealing student thinking and making instructional decisions based on that thinking, said Steven Pape, co-principal investigator and a University of Florida professor.

The classroom connectivity afforded by the Navigator system allows teachers to make better, more informed decisions about the instructional strategies they should use, he added.

A connected classroom also has fewer students who drift off and become disengaged in the lesson, said Owens. Students using the handhelds are “engaged with their handheld and the activities going on in the classroom.”

“In a normal mathematics classroom, students say, ‘This is math, I have to do it,’” explained Owens. “In a connected classroom, students say, ‘This is math, and I understand it. I can do it.’ Students are engaged with the activities in the classroom and with the tasks the teacher has set.”

“The most exciting thing about connected classroom technology is that teachers get this accurate information about student learning while the class is unfolding, while  they still have a chance to make adjustments,” said Karen Irving, an OSU professor and co-principal investigator.

Irving said that, although the images of student handhelds projected onto a screen or whiteboard for the entire class to see are anonymous, some educators reported that students voluntarily pointed out their incorrect graphs or mathematical equations in an attempt to fully understand the math concept.

“It gives students more control over revealing [their] knowledge—or lack of knowledge,” she said.

Students in the Navigator classrooms learned 20 percent to 36 percent more than they would have in a typical Algebra I classroom, Pape said.

“Algebra is a gatekeeper to many of the advanced mathematics classes, so we need to work in Algebra I to begin to help students break through” to more advanced math courses, he said.

The researchers noted that in focus groups, students in the connected classrooms were much more engaged—and through quantitative analysis, the researchers determined that students in those technology-rich classrooms believed in their ability to learn math much more strongly.

Students are sometimes fearful of math and have anxieties, but in a connected classroom they feel more supported, with more of a sense of community, Owens said.

“Having information from 30 students makes a teacher’s job more complex, but it helps them make the instructional changes they need to make to support learning,” Pape said.


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