On-line tutoring for Math Achievement Testing: A Controlled Evaluation

Carole R. Beal
University of Southern California

Rena Walles
Ivon Arroyo
Beverly P. Woolf
University of Massachusetts-Amherst


We report the results of a controlled evaluation of an interactive on-line tutoring system for high school math achievement test problem solving. High school students (N = 202) completed a math pre-test and were then assigned by teachers to receive interactive on-line multimedia tutoring or their regular classroom instruction. The on-line tutored students improved on the post-test, but the effect was limited to problems involving skills tutored in the on-line system (within-group control). Control group students showed no improvement. Students’ use of interactive multimedia hints predicted pre- to post-test improvement, and benefits of tutoring were greatest for students with weakest initial math skills.

About the Author(s)...

Carole R. Beal is Director of the Learning and Development Center at the Information Sciences Institute, University of Southern California. She received her doctorate in Psychology from Stanford University in 1983, and was a faculty member of Dartmouth College and then the University of Massachusetts-Amherst until 2005, when she moved to USC. Dr. Beal’s research interests focus on technology-based learning for K-12 education, with a particular focus on the design of systems to reach students who have traditionally not been engaged with math and science. She may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Rena Walles is a doctoral student in the Psychology Dept. at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. The research described here was conducted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for her masters degree. Her research interests are in the cognitive processes contributing to individual differences in mathematics achievement.

Ivon Arroyo is Senior Post-doctoral Fellow in the Computer Science Department at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She received her doctorate in Education from UMass in 2003. Her research interests are in the design of intelligent tutoring systems.

Beverly Woolf is Research Professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Massachustts-Amherst. Dr. Woolf’s research focuses on systems for on-line inquiry learning and technology to improve intelligent tutoring through machine learning.

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