ThinkerTools. What Works Clearinghouse Intervention ReportReport as inadecuate

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"ThinkerTools" is a computer-based program that aims to develop students' understanding of physics and scientific modeling. The program is composed of two curricula for middle school students, "ThinkerTools Inquiry" and "Model-Enhanced ThinkerTools". "ThinkerTools Inquiry" allows students to explore the physics of motion and then asks them to apply that knowledge to solve real-world problems. In the "Model-Enhanced ThinkerTools" curriculum, students create computer models that express their own theories of force and motion. The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) identified four studies of "ThinkerTools" for middle school students that were published or released between 1990 and 2011. Two studies are within the scope of the Science review protocol but do not meet WWC evidence standards. These quasi-experimental studies did not establish that the comparison group was comparable to the treatment group prior to the start of the intervention. Two studies are out of the scope of the Science review protocol because they have an ineligible study design. For the purposes of this report, the studies did not use a valid comparison group, as authors compared "Model-Enhanced ThinkerTools" to the prior curriculum version, "ThinkerTools Inquiry". A glossary of terms is included. (Contains 3 endnotes.)

Descriptors: Physics, Science Instruction, Computer Assisted Instruction, Middle School Students, Science Curriculum, Educational Research, Instructional Effectiveness

What Works Clearinghouse. P.O. Box 2393, Princeton, NJ 08543-2393. Tel: 866-503-6114; e-mail: info[at]; Web site:

Author: What Works Clearinghouse


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