In 2015, we were awarded a Department of Education First in the World Development Grant to develop Scalable Differentiated Instruction. Our project proposes the Fly-by-Wire intervention to be developed in conjunction with and implemented at Quinsigamond Community College in Massachusetts and Arapahoe Community College in Colorado, urban-metro area schools serving a majority of high-need, at-risk students.
Prior to the 1960s, flying an airplane was limited by the physical and cognitive limits of a human pilot. The ensuing invention of the digital computer revolutionized aircraft performance by extending the limits of pilots — pilots could now provide high-level inputs to control a plane without having to manually keep track of low-level details.
In this sense, flying an airplane is not unlike teaching a class — instructors bear heavy workloads because many details are manually handled today. But just as digital computers help pilots see and control where the plane is going, technology can help instructors provide targeted instruction at scale, whether in classrooms of five or 500.
We aim to conduct a quasi-experimental study (QES) at Arapahoe Community College and Quinsigamond Community College, targeting high-need, at-risk students. We will apply the FbW intervention, measure impact on student outcomes, collect qualitative data from instructors and recommend strategies for scaling to other institutions of higher education.