My birthday recently came and went and my wife didn’t surprise me at all. Over the past few years, she has given me a book that has either smart or thinking in its title. This year she gave me Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnmen. A Nobel laureate and Professor of Psychology at Princeton, Kahnmen discusses two separate thinking processes––System 1 which is fast, automatic, and based on impressions, and System 2 which is slow, dominated by concentration and attention to detail. No spoiler alert needed, but I’ll just say that Kahnmen draws some fascinating––and surprising––conclusions about the interplay of these two systems on our thinking process.
Intrigued by Kahnmen’s ideas, I decided to see how they applied to Smarthinking. Our System 1 thinking (fast, emotional) tells me that if students get help from a highly qualified educator when they’re having difficulty understanding a concept or trying to improve their writing, then they’ll do better than those students who can’t get help when they need it. But how do I know for sure? Our System 2 thinking (slow, analytical) must also be engaged to prove that tutoring helps students succeed.
Research is time consuming and challenging (System 2). Yet, over the years, schools have conducted their own research on how well Smarthinking works for their students. The research conclusively supports what we intuitively knew: Smarthinking improves student performance in a statistically significant way.
One example is the Florida College System, which offers Smarthinking in 27 of its 28 state colleges. Their students received over 75,000 Smarthinking tutoring sessions from July 2009 to July 2010. The study, commissioned by the Evaluation Unit of the Division of Florida Colleges, showed that among students who were taking either developmental education courses or first year college-level courses in math or English, those using Smarthinking’s services received higher grades.
Another example is a study done by Kapiolani Community College that was published in the Journal of Applied Research in the Community College. The results showed a statistically significant difference between the success rates, as measured by course grades, of those students who used Smarthinking and those that did not. Smarthinking users achieved higher grades than non-users. The results also showed that the more often students submitted their writing, the higher their grades.
More research studies can be found on Smarthinking’s website under the heading Success Stories. But I think you get the idea. We don’t just believe that Smarthinking improves student performance. We have proof!
Chuck Kleiner, Ed.D., Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Smarthinking