Crunching the Numbers: Why Adaptive Learning Was Made for Math Students

This is a guest post by freelance publisher Tom Grant.

Do you remember flash cards? It was the only way to learn multiplication at one time. But we’ve moved beyond those outmoded methods of learning – at least mostly. Not all children are good at memorizing. That doesn’t mean they’re bad students. Even if they do have a good memory, it doesn’t mean that every student will learn in the same way or the same pace. This is where adaptive learning software comes into play.

Adaptive Learning Software Analyzes Students’ Abilities

Adaptive software can “learn” about a child’s abilities. It interacts with the student by analyzing the data from the student’s actions in real-time as he solves various math problems. By doing this, the software can mold the lesson to fit the child instead of forcing the child to conform to a pre-written plan.

By learning about the child’s strengths and weaknesses, children avoid boredom while still getting all of the required practice they need to complete lesson plans and move on to more difficult lessons.

Curriculum Sequencing Is Easier

Curriculum sequencing monitors and tracks a student’s progression through a modular curriculum. It provides optimal planned sequencing of math problems, increasing difficulty as the student’s skills improve.

This process eliminates the traditional problem of pace in the class. Before adaptive software, you would have to design lessons that could theoretically mold to any student. Of course, it never works out this way. Some students pick things up more quickly than others. What do you do with slow-learners? That problem is irrelevant now.

Math Lessons Are Customized

It seems incredible that software could be so versatile. But, with the aid of adaptive learning software, you can actually eliminate a lot of the guesswork in lesson-planning. Why? Because lessons are now customized. Suppose you have two students working on math problems. Once student is struggling with a lesson that would have “officially” been taught last week. Another student is moving much faster than what a traditional lesson plan would allow.

Both students can now be challenged without being singled out. The software goes through diagnostic, adaptive, analysis to assess each child’s ability. It creates fluid, transparent lessons that aren’t intimidating or that pressure the child into learning something they’re not ready for.

Students Think More About Meaning

With adaptive learning, students start to think more about the meaning of the lessons. Why? Because the software helps them connect the math to real-world problems and issues. When students notice how a math problem applies to real-world problems, like constructing a building or a car or a bridge, they “connect” better with the material being taught.

Students also learn to synthesize learning across domains. Suddenly, they aren’t thinking about just math in “math class.” They’re think about math when they see it in music, or history, or any other subject. Leaning becomes more integrated. They are also forced to reflect on their own learning processes.

Studies show that the very act of reflecting on your thinking processes improves learning outcomes. Why? Because it helps with introspection – helping students become more self-aware. All this from a computer program.

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