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New Handheld Device Helps Teachers Track Student Progress

Jan. 24, 2008

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The KIHD System will allow for more accurate collection of data

FAIRFAX, Va. – The Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disabilities (KIHd) at George Mason University has developed a new device that will allow teachers to collect data on observable student behavior more accurately and conveniently.

The Kellar Instructional Handheld Data (KIHD) System was originally developed to observe and record the behaviors of students with Autism, but can be used to measure the behaviors of any student with or without a disability.

The device is used by teachers to observe the improvements made in academic behavior and performance or behavior in general. For example, teachers can use the device to measure whether or not a student is improving in the areas of reading or mathematics. Teachers can also observe a behavior such as how many times a student gets out of his or her seat during class.

"Currently, teachers who want to measure student behavior to track their progress must rely on their memories or take time to chart the data with paper and pencil," said Michael Behrmann, professor of special education and director of the KIHd. "With the KIHD System, teachers can observe students and simultaneously input data into whatever browser-based device they choose, eliminating the problem of teachers forgetting what they have observed or from spending hours at the end of the day entering data from handwritten notes."

After a teacher has decided what type of behavior or performance should be measured, they can then begin using methods of intervention to determine if the student is progressing. For example, if a student is having difficulty reading, a teacher could tutor the student an extra 30 minutes three times a week. If the student's reading skills do not improve after the interventions, the teacher would allow the student an extra 45 minutes five times a week. If a teacher wants to increase the amount of time a student stays in his or her seat during class, the teacher could develop an intervention system such as rewarding the student points for staying in his or her seat or taking away points if the student gets out of the seat.

After a teacher has collected the data from the intervention, the KIHD System automatically graphs the information. From the graph the teacher can determine if the student's performance is improving or not and whether or not the teacher needs to try another intervention. Graphing the data can also help teachers determine if a student who is not responding to the interventions has a disability and is in need of special education, a goal of the U.S. Department of Education Response to Intervention program.

"The ability to capture performance data allows teachers to make instructional decisions faster than with traditional forms of evaluation where they may only be testing students every few weeks or months," said Behrmann. "With the KIHD System, teachers can test students every day or week and quickly determine if their interventions need to be changed."

The KIHD System is currently being tested at a private special education school that provides services to children with Autism. It was chosen because teachers were already collecting daily data on student behavior. The KIHD System will allow them to collect and record this data more efficiently.

The KIHD System can also be used outside the classroom by zookeepers who track animal behavior or industrial psychologists who study assembly line behavior, as well as others who measure observable behavior. The KIHD System is compatible with any browser-based device such as a computer, BlackBerry or cell phone.

About the Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities
The Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities is an interdisciplinary campus based organization that focuses on improving the lives and productivity of persons with disabilities. As one of the oldest assistive technology training programs in the country, KIHd combines the resources of George Mason University with local, state, regional, national, public and private sector agencies and organizations to develop products, services and programs for person with disabilities.

About George Mason University
George Mason University, located in the heart of Northern Virginia’s technology corridor near Washington, D.C., is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with national distinction in a range of academic fields. With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, information technology, biotechnology and health care, Mason prepares its students to succeed in the work force and meet the needs of the region and the world. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason’s Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Its School of Law is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 35 law schools in the United States.

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