Teachers for decades have understood the importance of “differentiated instruction” — the process of tailoring instruction to meet individual learners’ needs. Knewton helps teachers evaluate what course content resonates well, with which students, and identify difficult concepts at a glance so that they can tailor lessons accordingly.
Less administrative work, more time
Knewton allows teachers to put their time to better use. No need to wait until the next test to discover gaps in knowledge — Knewton provides educators with a real-time snapshot of student achievement and concept-level proficiency. When a student struggles with a concept in a Knewton-powered course, he or she can be instantly remediated with previously taught skills, also known as prerequisite skills. These skills are prioritized based on the strength of their relationship to the topic at hand and on the student’s demonstrated strengths and weaknesses. This frees teachers up from needing to pull together personalized prerequisite materials for each student. With Knewton, teachers have more time to orchestrate classroom activities, introduce creative group work, or sit down with each student to address misconceptions and work with them through any frustrations.
A cross-disciplinary approach
Knewton can also help connect a student’s various areas of coursework. Since each subject in a traditional school requires a different teacher with the correct area of expertise, various subjects are often presented to students as being far more distinct and separate from each other than they actually are. Studies show students benefit in many ways from a cross-disciplinary approach, but practical concerns often get in the way. A history teacher might notice that her students’ essays suffer more from a lack of basic writing skills than from a lack of understanding of the historical facts, but she can’t suspend her own curriculum to teach those skills (even if she’s qualified to do so) and she can’t ask the English teacher to revisit them in his class, because he has to get his class through Hamlet by the end of the week.
Knewton uses sophisticated “knowledge graphs” — cross-disciplinary graphs of academic concepts, linked by prerequisite relationships that help define a student’s path through courses — to link multiple subjects. If we’re looking at a section in a history book, for example, we would ask ourselves what other historical facts and concepts a student must understand in order to contextualize the new content. To create an interdisciplinary graph, we would ask questions like, “What reading level is necessary to parse out all the important details in this section?” and “What understanding of fractions and percentages is necessary to read the pie chart on page 145?”