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The goal of this efficacy project is to improve mathematics in middle school students using an intelligent tutoring system called ALEKS (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces). The middle school students include 6th graders from the Jackson-Madison County (Tennessee) School System who have low achievement in mathematics and who have volunteered to participate in an afterschool mathematics tutoring program twice a week for two hours each day. The 6th graders were randomly assigned to one of two types of instructional classrooms. In the first condition, students interact with ALEKS in three 20-minute blocks each day. Students assigned to the second instructional classroom condition are taught by a human teacher during three 20-minute blocks in a traditional lecture format, with breaks between blocks. Our first year is underway and will end in March (2010) a week before the administration of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP). Preliminary findings from the evaluation of the data show  students in the intelligent ALEKS condition are showing better-than-expected-mastery levels of the mathematics content. A comparison of students' performance on the mathematics subsection of ThinkLink, a district wide standardized test, confirmed that students in the ALEKs condition performed better on mathematics measures than do students in the teacher classroom condition, even after only two and a half months of intervention.


PI: Xiangen Hu

Co-PIs: Scotty D. Craig, Celia Anderson, Anna Bargagloitti, Arthur C. Graesser, Allan Sterbinsky

Senior Researchers: Randy Floyd, Theresa Okwumabua 

Grant name: Applications of Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) to Improve the Skill Levels of Students with Deficiencies in Mathematics

Grant number: R305A090528

Funding agency: Institute of Education Sciences



This study examines the efficacy of using the ALEKS (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces) system as a method of strategic intervention in after-school settings to improve the mathematical skills of struggling 6th grade students in the Jackson-Madison County School System in Jackson, TN. ALEKS is a web-based, artificial intelligent assessment and learning system that uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and does not know in a course. To ensure that topics learned are retained in long-term memory, ALEKS periodically reassesses the student, using the results to adjust the student’s lesson plan. Because students must demonstrate mastery through mixed question assessments that cannot be predicted, mastery on ALEKS represents true content mastery. This study will focus on sixth grade students who are in the bottom 40th percentile in math achievement.