New Breed of Digital Tutors Yielding Learning Gains
Struggling algebra students in the Everett, Wash., school district get help from special tutors who diagnose their weaknesses, tailor instruction to their needs, and provide on-the-spot feedback—all with an inhuman degree of patience.
That’s inhuman literally: The tutors are computers. Three years ago, the district started employing Cognitive Tutor, a series of computer programs based on artificial intelligence that were developed by researchers from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The programs provide an alternative form of math instruction to secondary school students who haven’t succeeded in regular classrooms.
The experience proved so successful that officials in the 20,000-student district have expanded the program. Now, all of Everett’s high school students have a choice in signing up for Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and geometry: a traditional class or one that mixes teacher-led lessons with a sizable...
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