Next Generation Software Uses Adaptive Instruction and Advanced Skill Assessment to Provide More Effective, Individualized Instruction

SAN MATEO, CA, October 1, 2009 – Stottler Henke today announced positive results from two controlled studies that evaluated the effectiveness of its ReadInsight software and two other learning products for reading comprehension. These next-generation reading software systems significantly outperformed current classroom and computer- based instruction. Currently, the US Navy provides classroom-based reading instruction to some of its recruits to ensure that they possess the reading skills they need. To enable more effective instructional methods, the Office of Naval Research funded the research and development of three next-generation learning systems for rapid acquisition of reading skills: Gradations by Intelligent Automation, Inc., Star by Aptima, and ReadInsight by Stottler Henke.

These systems were recently evaluated by two controlled studies. In one study conducted by Arizona State University, students who used the three learning systems in combination for 36 hours increased their reading skills on average by 1.1 grade levels. This gain is equivalent to 0.03 grade levels per hour of instruction. Students who used ReadInsight alone gained 0.2 grade levels after just five hours of use, or 0.04 grade levels per hour of instruction. In a second study conducted by the Naval Service Training Command, students at the US Navy’s Great Lakes Training Center who used the three tutors for one week improved their reading skills as much as students in the control group who received two weeks of the Center’s current classroom instruction. In addition, the new systems significantly outperformed traditional reading software currently in use within the Navy. The Center continues to use and evaluate the new learning systems.

ReadInsight uses advanced instructional methods and skill assessment algorithms that are based on cognitive theories of reading skill acquisition. These methods are supported by innovative probabilistic reasoning methods and a specialized authoring tool for developing exercises. Unlike traditional learning software systems that teach each reading skill separately, ReadInsight teaches reading comprehension more naturally and effectively as an integrated set of high- and low-level skills such as sense-making, inference, vocabulary and grammar. Implementing this instructional approach requires new methods and software technologies for assessing component reading skills and providing instruction. For example, a student might misinterpret a reading passage because he or she misunderstood a particular word, incorrectly parsed a sentence, or failed to make the appropriate causal connection or inference. ReadInsight uses Bayesian reasoning to update its model of the student with probabilistic estimates of the student’s mastery of each reading skill, using a variety of assessment questions that target a range of skills. By assessing a spectrum of skills in the context of an exercise, ReadInsight can pinpoint each student’s specific weaknesses and use these diagnoses to provide remediation and select next exercises.

ReadInsight uses adaptive instruction and detailed models of each student to enable more effective and efficient instruction. For example, ReadInsight uses its estimates of reading skills in each student model to ask the best set questions after each reading passage. These questions are selected to introduce, reinforce, or reassess target reading skills that are appropriate for each student. In addition, if the student is unable to answer a high-level question, ReadInsight uses scaffolding to ask a series of detailed questions and then prompt the student to combine these detailed answers to re-answer the high-level question. ReadInsight software is available from Stottler Henke, starting at $200 for a set of 5 user licenses. An optional authoring tool enables organizations to customize ReadInsight with their own learning content. Stottler Henke also offers ReadInsight software technology, software development, and consulting services to learning software developers and end user organizations.

Founded in 1988, Stottler Henke Associates, Inc. applies artificial intelligence and other advanced software technologies to solve problems that defy solution using traditional approaches. The company delivers intelligent software solutions for education and training, planning and scheduling, knowledge management and discovery, decision support, and software development. In 2006, Stottler Henke was the subject of a NASA “Hallmarks of Success” video profile for its work developing and later commercializing advanced planning and training software systems. Stottler Henke received a 2004 “Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning” award for innovative technology. Stottler Henke was named as one of the “Top 100” companies making a significant impact on the military training industry by Military Training Technology magazine for 2009 and five previous years. In 2005, Stottler Henke received a Blue Ribbon recognizing it as a company that leads the industry in innovation.

October 1, 2009