Johns Hopkins University study draws link between Knewton's Alta and improved learning outcomes

By StartUp City | Wednesday, June 05, 2019

NEW YORK, NY: Knewton, the world's leader in AI-driven adaptive learning, today published the results of an independent study conducted by Johns Hopkins University to measure the impact of Alta, Knewton's adaptive learning courseware for U.S. higher education. The findings, which Knewton has published in their entirety, confirm an association between Alta and improvements in student outcomes across ability levels.

As part of the company's commitment to transparency regarding Alta's impact on learning outcomes, Knewton shared its fully anonymized Fall 2017 data with the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University(JHU). Knewton invited JHU to assess the impact of demonstrating proficiency by completing Alta assignments — as well as Alta usage in general — on student outcomes like quiz and test scores, future assignment completion and retention.

"Making an impact on learning outcomes is why Knewton exists. With that comes a responsibility to be transparent about the results students are achieving with Alta — and an opportunity to introduce new methods of efficacy reporting to the ed-tech community," said Heather Shelstad, VP of marketing at Knewton. "While essential measurements of efficacy such as grades and test scores are typically reported only once a course is completed, our technology and analytics capabilities allow us to report on results that predict learning outcomes in real time, providing instructors and students with important insights into progress."

The publication of the JHU analysis marks the latest milestone in Knewton's ongoing commitment to transparency regarding the impact of Alta. In January 2018, Knewton published an analysis of Alta's impact conducted by its data science team. The results of this internal analysis strongly suggested a predictive and associative link between Alta and improved student performance. However, Knewton's own analysis took a different approach to controlling for student ability level and other classroom factors that influence outcomes than the one employed by JHU.

"When we engaged JHU, we weren't merely interested in having a third party validate our internal analyses of Alta's efficacy. Instead, we wanted the perspective of an experienced research team that was largely unfamiliar with our in-house discussions and metrics regarding efficacy," said Illya Bomash, managing data scientist at Knewton. "JHU's analysis represents both a fundamental piece of scientific research and is key to our efforts toward transparency and continuous, data-driven improvement."

"Impact isn't something to be established once, but rather continually, using different approaches and from different points of view," added Andrew Jones, data scientist at Knewton. "We're eager to build upon the work of these analyses to provide new insights into how Alta makes a difference for both students and instructors."

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