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Cignition: Building math skills through gamified tutoring powered by machine learning and neuroscience

About Cignition

Cignition is a research-proven leader in delivering in-school and at-home high-impact online tutoring. Certified math teachers, averaging 17 years of classroom experience, have access to a uniquely comprehensive online tutoring program, including insightful progress and performance data, helpful digital tools and games, curriculum-aligned lessons, assessments, and more.

Industries: Education
Location: United States

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Google for Education Build Partner, Cignition, offers a data-informed and gamified tutoring platform backed by neuroscience and machine learning research to help K-12 students master and enjoy math.

Google Cloud results

  • Delivers gamified mathematics learning to wider range of students
  • Reduces necessary tutoring session times from one hour to 30 minutes
  • Doubles proficiency in mathematics through neuroscience-based education

Enables more efficacy in tutoring delivery than other math interventions

The global economy increasingly requires more talented people in science, technology, engineering, and math ( STEM), and schools are exploring more creative approaches to future-proof their students’ education. In the U.S., many schools still struggle to help students excel in math.

“We’re at a critical point in math education,” says John O’Connell, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Cignition. “If you look at national U.S. math assessments, proficiency has long been stagnant, and underserved students have seen a decline in certain areas. More than 60 percent of students are not proficient in math by eighth grade. Since math is a STEM foundation, we need to find ways to solve this problem.”

Cignition, a Google for Education Partner, was founded on the idea that a balance of self-guided assignments and tutoring services powered by machine learning could improve students’ math skills. To succeed, however, Cignition needs to ensure its technology is easily accessible to all students.

“We chose to partner with Google because it is a proven, strategic provider of technology solutions in education.”

John O’Connell, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Cignition

Making math fun for all students

Cignition developed a learning platform that includes live tutoring, self-led neuroscience-driven games, and hands-on activities, all through an online portal.

“We’re optimized for Chrome and Chromebooks, and anyone with a browser and internet connection can access our services,” says John. “This includes the important live tutoring portion of the product. The Afterschool Alliance and Pew Research found a high percentage of working parents want their kids to have access to after-school education enrichment like tutoring, but cannot access or afford it.”

Cignition brings the benefits of live tutoring into the home and takes an approach to learning that helps minimize the time and cost demands placed on families. Tutors assign students tasks and perform assessments directly on the Cignition platform. This translates to an average of 30-minute weekly sessions that are as, if not more, effective than a full hour of traditional tutoring, cutting tutoring costs in half.

One study from Digital Promise found that Cignition's approach surpassed the results of many published math intervention studies even though they delivered shorter and fewer total sessions, providing a .46 standardized mean difference in mathematics proficiency, which if extended over an entire school year could imply a full year of catch-up.

The company tutors K-12 students with students in grades three through eight getting the additional benefit of its game-based learning platform, which has received several industry awards including Common Sense Education’s 5-Star, Best-in-Class review and the Digital Promise award. Students participate in math-building activities in a virtual world environment called FogStone Isle, which makes math engaging and subsequently increases students’ skills.

Cignition’s tutoring and math supplement services are used in schools, during after-school programs, and at home, serving 300,000 students and 17,000 teachers that seek math enrichment and/or remediation. Parents often comment that they use Cignition tutoring at home because their children genuinely enjoy the tutoring sessions.

Cignition works with hundreds of certified math teachers as tutors, averaging 17 years of teaching experience, 70 percent of which have a master’s degree in education. That helps to further support Cignition’s goal of equitable access to quality learning since teachers and families can take advantage of highly skilled tutors anytime, anywhere.

“Equity is a big consideration for us,” says John. “We want to make sure that all children have easy access to our services, and we know that the right technology paired with the right instructional expertise enables that. We chose to partner with Google because it is a proven, strategic provider of technology solutions in education.”

“Google is a leader in education. When you look at what Google has done to transform education technology, it’s amazing. We see far more Chromebooks in classrooms than any other technology.”

John O’Connell, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Cignition

Partnering with Google to innovate in the classroom and at home

Cignition uses a range of Google for Education solutions to build better product experiences for tutors, teachers, students, and parents. This includes Google Single Sign-On, Google Classroom API for Rostering, Google Sync, and Google Classroom Share. The company also optimized its online tutoring to perform in Google Classroom on Chromebooks.

“Google is a leader in education,” says John. “When you look at what Google has done to transform education technology, it’s amazing. We see far more Chromebooks in classrooms than any other technology. Chromebooks are the perfect devices for students in classrooms and at home. That’s why it’s our preferred platform.”

Integrating its platform with Classroom has increased uptake significantly, which it largely attributes to a simplified teacher onboarding process. One-click rostering into the Cignition program provides both students and teachers with a frictionless experience when getting started with the platform.

Cignition also relies on Google Workspace for internal communications and collaboration. With a relatively small team of tech-minded professionals, staff always work together on a range of projects. Using Google Sheets, Google Docs, Google Meet, and the rest of the productivity suite enables Cignition to capture the power of its own experts through real-time collaboration.

“We are a research-focused organization, and as we enable others to use our tutoring and machine learning frameworks, it will further benefit teachers, tutors, and students.”

John O’Connell, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Cignition

Integrating with third-party programs

Cignition incorporates third-party programs that further enhance its ability to deliver data-informed tutoring sessions. The ability to work with a virtuous learning cycle that accounts for teacher input, student performance analysis, and customized teaching content has profound implications for all education technology providers.

“Data from other self-paced math programs, assessment platforms, and education games utilized by teachers and their students can be integrated, better informing and guiding tutoring sessions,” says John. “We are a research-focused organization, and as we enable others to use our tutoring and machine learning frameworks, it will further benefit teachers, tutors, and students.”

As it works to expand its services, Cignition is considering how its platform can be used in coding and other STEM subjects that rely on mathematics. The company is looking into Cloud Storage, Cloud AI, and other technologies within Google Cloud to build out its platform further.

Cignition will leverage its status as a Google for Education Build Partner and the solutions included in Google Cloud to continue building better teaching and learning for all students.

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Cignition

Cignition is a research-proven leader in delivering in-school and at-home high-impact online tutoring. Certified math teachers, averaging 17 years of classroom experience, have access to a uniquely comprehensive online tutoring program, including insightful progress and performance data, helpful digital tools and games, curriculum-aligned lessons, assessments, and more.

Industries: Education
Location: United States