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Pixel-Peep Bunny

"4 out of 5 dentists surveyed would recommend sugarless gum to their patients who chew gum." That's a slogan long associated with Trident gum. But most people are probably skeptical of that claim, and we wouldn't really view a chewing gum commercial as a scientific claim. Who conducted the research? Where was it published? What were the survey questions? And what about that famous fifth dentist?

But when it comes to education research, we don't always scrutinize things so closely -- particularly when it comes to results that confirm our gut reactions or further particular commercial or political agendas.

Case in point: does the iPad boost student learning? Is it a solid educational tool? That's the headline from a recent article in Wired magazine that argues that the devices are improving student engagement and assessment.

The article draws on two recent studies conducted on iPad apps: one on Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Fuse Algebra I app (see MindShift’s coverage here) and one on Motion Math’s fraction app (see MindShift’s coverage here). Both of these studies tout positive results for the apps in question: In the case of the former, state standardized test scores jumped by 20%; in the case of the latter, students’ scores improved an average of 15%.

Read my story on evaluating educational research, including an interview with cognitive psychologist Dr. Alicia Chang who talks about what to look for when judging whether or not studies are trustworthy, over on MindShift

Photo credits: Flickr user Harald Hoyer

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Audrey Watters


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