FAQ for teachers

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This page is for teachers who are involved in the studies - it addresses their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Please add and modify as needed. (originally written by Ido Roll)


General

Q: What are you, the researchers, looking for?

We are looking for the truth. We do not favor any one condition over the other - we are interested in what instruction helps the students the most, and contributes the most to the theory of learning. We do not want 'our' instruction to be better - we want to find which instruction is truly better.

Q: What will you do with the results of the studies?

The results of each study are carefully analyzed before being integrated into a theory of learning, in order to inform better design of instructional materials. Usually we publish the conclusions in a conference or a journal, in order to communicate what we have learned. Your contribution is acknowledged in these reports.

In addition, successful studies are used to inform the design of newer versions of the Cognitive Tutor curricula.


Tests

Q: What if the test is too difficult?

Our tests are a bit tough on purpose. Remember that we are evaluating the Cognitive tutor, not the student. We do not want all students to ace the test, since in this case we will not be able to determine which instruction was better. Please make sure that your students are doing the best they can, in order to simulate a real learning environment. At the same time, make sure that the tough tests do not demoralize them.

Q: Can I have the test results back?

If you want to receive the test scores, please ask from the researcher. However, we do not encourage sharing the scores with the students, since they are typically lower than the students' true level (see question above).

Q: If students write their names on the test forms, how do I make sure that no personal information is being collected?

Once we collect the tests they go through a rigorous annonymization process. No names or other identifying details are being recorded on our systems. Our procedures in each individual study comply with the guidelines and are being monitored by the Institutional Review Board.

Q: How much time should I give to the test?

This depends on you and the researcher. Usually 20-30 minutes are enough - do not give to the tests more time than needed, in order not to take too much time away from instruction. The only emphasize is the following: Please make sure to give all your classes equal time, to keep the scores comparable.


Study

Q: What condition should I assist?

None. Teach as you normally would. We would like to evaluate the different instructions in the most natural environment.

Q: How do I make it up for the Control condition?

There is no need to, for two reasons:

  • The instruction that the Control condition receives may actually be better. We do not know that the instructional manipulation is any better - this is why we evaluate it in the study.
  • If the instructional manipulation is better, assisting the Control condition may make it seem that both are equally good. In this case we may not notice the advantages, abandon the manipulation, and thus future learners that could have been assisted by similar instruction will not receive it.

Q: Do you want to know about students' reactions and other experiences and impressions?

Yes, a lot! Being an experienced teacher in the classroom gives you a unique perspective and understanding that we lack. Please share with us your impression and observations from the classroom. Please contact the researcher with any unique event. Also, in case you are disturbed by the reactions of the students to the study or the instruction, please share this with the researcher. We do not want to harm students in any way.

Rewards

Q: Can I receive ACT 48 credit for the time I spend working on your study?

Depends on the school policy, but generally speaking, yes. Ask us.

Q: Can I get paid for my time?

You will get paid for extra time and effort you put in the study. For example, if the researcher asks you to prepare unique lesson plans, you will get paid for that. Make sure that this is agreed upon before you start putting in the extra effort. Other, more minor efforts, such as meeting with the researcher, can be rewarded in other ways, for instance, by crediting them to ACT 48.

Q: What other help do you guys need beyond the instruction?

We would appreciate your input on any topic related to the study - the intervention, your impressions, review of the tests, etc.


Q: I still have questions that were not answered sufficiently. Who should I talk to?

Please contact the researcher or the PSLC site manager Michael Bett (mbett@cs.cmu.edu) with any question or concern.