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The Relationship between Gender, Ethnicity, and Technology on the Impact of Mathematics Achievement in an After-School Program

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Abstract

The gap among ethnicities and gender in mathematics achievement is a well-known problem. While the gap has been shrinking over the past three decades, it has not completely diminished (Jencks & Phillips, 1998; McGraw, Lubienski, & Strutchens, 2006). The ALEKS, Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces, tutoring system is one promising example of a technology that can target this problem. ALEKS is a Web-based intelligent tutoring system (ITS) that instructs students on the mathematical topics that they are most ready to learn, assesses students' current knowledge, and evaluates student performance on problems related to those topics. In order to better understand the role that technology can play in decreasing achievement gaps for gender and ethnicity, the authors examined the effect of interacting with ALEKS in a 6th grade students' math after-school program. In order to answer the question, Does ALEKS reduce the math achievement gap between two ethnicities (White and African American) compared to a teacher?, a randomized experiment was implemented in which students are either assigned to use ALEKS or are assigned to be taught structured lesson plans from a teacher. The experiment was conducted as an after-school program at five secondary schools in a school district in west Tennessee using a population of 102 students with excellent attendance (45 out of 50 days). This left the teacher condition with 22 males, 29 females; 11 white students and 40 African American students. The ALEKS condition had 28 males, 23 females; 11 white students and 40 African American students. The program was conducted for 25 weeks with 40 days of instruction and 10 days of review assessments. Results from the study suggest that the ITS (ALEKS) helps reduce the achievement gap between ethnicities. While more research is needed, it would appear that the ALEKS condition was able to offer equivalent help to students with different levels of performances, while the teachers' help tends to average performers. One table and one figure are appended.

Citation

Huang, X., Craig, S.D., Xie, J., Graesser, A.C., Okwumabua, T., Cheney, K.R. & Hu, X. The Relationship between Gender, Ethnicity, and Technology on the Impact of Mathematics Achievement in an After-School Program. Retrieved October 22, 2019 from .

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