Woot Math’s design and development sought to leverage multiple principles from research from cognitive science with established evidence, and other practices that have extensively established evidence for the learning of mathematics. These have included sources such as the various Practice Guides from What Works Clearinghouse (IES, U.S. Dept. Education), and seminal works such as Adding it Up and How People Learn (from the National Research Council and National Academies, respectively).
Woot Math has been designed and developed to help teachers through its support of important strategies that are widely identified as best practices. For example, the WWC Practice Guide on Improving Mathematical Problem Solving in Grades 4-8 gives the following recommendations: prepare problems and use them in whole-class instruction; assist students in monitoring and reflecting on the problem-solving process; and expose students to multiple problem-solving strategies (Woodward et al., 2012).
Woot Math has also been designed and developed to leverage the best research from cognitive science about how people learn. In a recent review of laboratory and classroom studies, Booth and colleagues (2017) describe the evidence for eight cognitive science principles that are especially promising for improving mathematics instruction, namely: feedback, scaffolding, distributed practice, interleaved practice, worked examples, error reflection, linking between abstract and concrete representations, and comparing and contrasting multiple instances. Each of these principles was incorporated into the design of Woot Math. Here are some examples, with citations of research published by the Woot Math team: All tasks in Woot Math provide immediate feedback to students. Woot Math’s adaptive learning and practice capabilities adaptively schedule both distributed and interleaved practice based on Bayesian predictive models of student knowledge along with blocks of practice and other techniques to boost student confidence (Montero et al., 2018; Khajah, Mozer, Kelly, & Milne, 2018; Milne, Kelly, & Webb, 2014). Unlike other leading intelligent tutoring platforms that use a “hint system,” Woot Math provides worked examples both for scaffolding and for just-in-time (isomorphic-task) help. A recent year-long randomized study of fifth grade students found that worked examples significantly improved transfer of student outcomes to algebra (Hallinen & Booth, 2018). Woot Math’s connected-classroom and formative assessment capabilities place focus on worked examples, error reflection, and comparison and contrast across approaches (Bush & Milne, 2018a; Bush & Milne, 2018b; Bush, Marks, & Milne, 2017). Woot Math emphasizes high-quality virtual manipulatives and uses them to create linkages between concrete and abstract representations (Marks & Wyberg, 2016).
Having a valid basis in research is a necessary element of an effective product for education, but it is not enough. It is equally important for the product to be easily used by teachers and students and to naturally fit into the requirements of their classroom. Because of this fact, Woot Math has been carefully designed and developed for ease of use and to minimize the friction of adoption in real classrooms. This has been done through extensive work with teachers and students and iterative updates to the products through the process of co-design and design-based implementation research (Penuel et al., 2011).
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