In our Common Questions series, StarrMatica’s CEO, Emily Starr, answers some of the questions we are most commonly asked.
First of all, research supports teacher selected instructional materials. While at first glance it may seem easier to have a computer program choose activities for students, research has shown that technology, specifically instructional software, has been proven most effective when integrated into classroom instruction by a teacher. Students who experienced teacher-led standards-based instruction with technology showed higher overall gains than students who experienced the same curricula and technology in an isolated lab setting. This is because teachers have the ability to match computer instruction with a child’s development, the curriculum sequence, and the needs of particular groups of students.
Secondly, when students use individualized software programs, and the program assigns activities, these activities are typically limited in number, are skill and drill based, use the same strategies over and over, and offer little learner choice. If computer selected interventions are not effective, then teachers are once again searching for alternate resources.
With StarrMatica, teachers are presented with up to fifty digital content resources for a concept, so instead of relying on a singularly focused activity, teachers can try several interventions until a student succeeds. In addition, choosing interventions from multiple activities with multiple strategies allows teachers to match interventions to a student’s learning style, interests, strengths, and weaknesses. A teacher knows that:
- John would like this activity because he has an interest in cars and this activity involves racing problems.
- Shoney is distracted by sounds, so I’m going to choose this soundless activity.
- Mason just completed two multiple choice worksheets and he guessed on every answer so I’m going to choose an activity where he has to think of an answer and type it in.
- Alex is a visual learner, so I am going to choose this learning animation that uses graphics to explain place value.
- Scott needs to work on his test taking strategies, so I am going to choose this multiple choice activity.
- Joaquin understands multi-digit multiplication problems using the grid method, so I am going to choose practice that allows him to use that strategy.
The bottom line is that teachers know their students best. So, we strive to put the best digital content choices at the fingertips of teachers so they can choose what is best for their students.