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Experiment Findings about Cognitive Tutor Not What Was Expected

Empirical Education released the results of its year-long randomized experiment on the comparative effectiveness of the Cognitive Tutor program, conducted in cooperation with the Maui School District in Hawai’i. Funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to Empirical, the research evaluated the local implementation of Carnegie Learning’s Algebra I product. Company president Denis Newman explained the results, saying, “We were surprised by the results and consider this study something we can all learn from. Nobody expected a negative impact on the experienced teachers but this may show that it takes some time to get back up to their high level of performance when learning a new way of teaching. Following these teachers’ progress into a second year would help to verify this explanation. This effect was not found in previous research, which again points to the importance of conducting many experiments on any intervention before coming to a conclusion about its effectiveness.” A second experiment in the same school system, focused on the new Bridge to Algebra product, is nearing completion.