HALF Helping At-risk students Learn Fractions

Intervention - Individual Tutorial

Students work on individual tutorials on their tablets using the intervention's intelligent tutoring system (ITS). All of the tutorials presented within the ITS fall into one of three categories.

  • Model-building tutorials: students learn to build models of the different classes of fractions (proper, improper, or mixed numbers)
  • Word name tutorials: students learn to link symbolic representations of fractions (e.g. $3/4$) to the word names of fractions (three-fourths)
  • Fractions problems tutorials: students learn to build models of fractions problems and then interpret the models to reason about the correct answers to the problems (e.g. which fraction is larger, $1/3$ or $3/5$?)

The ITS leads students through the material at their own pace, giving additional support where needed and helping students to gradually transition to more independent work. The tutorials have two main components: instructional videos and guided practice with embedded scaffolding to support learning.

Instructional Videos

At the beginning of each tutorial in the ITS, students view a short (1-2 minutes) instructional video that includes an explanation of the new fractions content and a demonstration of an example problem. At the end of the first video, students are given the option to watch a second video which includes two additional example problems. Students then progress to guided practice.

Guided Practice

The tutorials include an embedded guided practice system that consists of multiple stages, each with a different set of embedded scaffolds. Earlier stages of the tutorials incorporate more scaffolds than later stages. To achieve the most efficient and effective level of instructional challenge for each student, the ITS starts each student in a middle stage. If students perform well, they are allowed to move on to more difficult stages and eventually to the next tutorial. If they have difficulty, students are routed to an earlier stage that includes additional scaffolds. Students who continue to struggle participate in teacher-led foundation lesson during the next day's small group instructional period.