Based on Stanovich and Stanovich’s (2003) framework for evidence-based practice in education, Memory Tutor and Wordle have markedly different evidence bases linked directly to their relative effectiveness, as well as the strength of the theoretical foundations upon which the techniques are based. The three factors upon which a teacher should found their evaluations of an educational practice can be reduced to the following: publication of findings in peer-reviewed, refereed journals; replication of results by other reputable investigators and; consensus on the research within the community (Stanovich & Stanovich, 2003, pp. 7-9). It can be seen, through examination of these bases, that Memory Tutor has a greater strength of converging evidence than does Wordle a result of the lack of sufficient research to ascertain its efficacy in education. A theory is defined by Stanovich as “a causal model of the effects [this educational method] has” (Stanovich & Stanovich, 2003, p. 28); comparing the theoretical bases of both Wordle and Memory Tutor, we can identify some interesting, contrasting features.
The theoretical base for using Wordle in education seems to be lacking; indeed, there seem to be little, if any, strong evidence that confirms that the underlying principles of word clouds are valid, or effective as teaching aids. While it can be used as an advance organizer, which have been shown to be effective by meta-analyses (Petty, 2009, pp. 197-198), it is flawed in its principle; “the frequency of a word does not necessarily denote its importance in a given text” (Berson & Berson, 2009).
Memory Tutor, which is based on the Fact and Concept Training (FaCT) System, is said to be based on a system that is said to optimize “practice schedules according to model-based predictions” (Pavlik Jr., Presson, Dozzi, Wu, MacWhinney, & Koedinger, 2007). The Adaptive Control of Thought-Rational Theory (ACT-R) is the model upon which the predictive capabilities of the System is...
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