Math Program Seeks To Measure ‘The iPad Effect’

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) and Amelia Earhart Middle School in Riverside, California, collaborated in a year long study to determine the impact of the educational math program for the iPad.

The program is called HMH Fuse: Algebra I, and was designed for use with Apple’s iPad. Of course, as with any new pilot program, data was needed to measure effectiveness, and that’s where we pick up.

The idea was to measure the learning of students in the “Fuse” group, who used the iPad app, to the NonFuse group of students, who used a textbook for traditional mathematics learning. (One wonders what kind of “lottery” was used to decide which poor kids got stuck with a textbook.)

According to the Californian Standards Test those students using the iPad, 78%, scored at a level of proficient or advanced compared to 59% of the traditional test book users. This was not the only benefit.

Other advantages included parents who were able to become more involved with their child’s homework. Parents could watch tutorial or choose to watch a review of the math problem their child was working on. Students were taking the initiative by working more independently. Moreover, students were noted by their teachers to be more engaged in their education, and exhibited fewer behavior problems.

As with any new technology, the students did have a learning curve, but also with technology the more you use it the more savvy you become. Teachers implemented and developed strategies that would allow students to become comfortable with their devices. They used to their advantage that the app allows for simpler information retrieval, while books require that you hunt for the information.

Summing up the effect well, a principal involved with the study explained that the “students’ interaction with the device was more personal. You could tell students were more engaged. Using the iPad was more normal, more understandable for them.”


  1. WindowsPhone fan

    February 8, 2012 at 6:43 am

    78% of them scored at a level of proficient? Wow..I’m stunned to see the number. Have they measured the other factors? Had those students same marks or percentage?

    Sometime such case studies doesn’t give accurate numbers, you know (no offence)

  2. Joe Parker

    February 24, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    WindowPhone Fan – I have no doubt that the numbers are accurate. I’ve seen studies that show that the iPad increases proficiency simply because it engages the students more.  I’ve checked out the HMH Fuse program and the problem I have with it is that it’s simply a textbook on the iPad, when it could have been so much more. The trend seems to be going away from textbooks with flipped classrooms and many more options for math instruction. One tool I’m impressed with is @elevatedmath, which has hours of instruction on the iPad. Here is a review that compares Elevated Math with HMH Fuse and you can see what I mean: