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Gifts at Work

Gifts at Work

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The Wood Fellowships 20 Years Later


Daniel Schwartz first discovered how useful computers could when he was teaching in a remote Alaskan village.

It was the 1980's and he was playing around with an Apple II Plus. "It was high interactivity, it gave more feedback, it was more fun, and it was purposeful," he explains. "You could really do good job of making sure kids knew where they were. That was a big win." Schwartz thought he could create better software and he came to Teachers College to pursue a master's degree in the then emerging field of computer-based instructional technology. At TC, John B. Black, Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Telecommunications, suggested he stay on to earn a doctorate in human cognition and learning.

In 1989 Schwartz became the first recipient of the Ben and Grace Wood Fellowship Fund. "If I hadn't had the fellowship, I would have been deeply in debt," he says.

Now a professor of education at Stanford University, Schwartz, like Wood, is known for his innovative approach to assessment. He has developed assessment techniques that give students feedback during a test, that measure their choices and their ability to learn rather than focusing solely on right and wrong answers. "It's an excellent predictor of how well they will learn," he says.

When children do the teaching, it helps them learn, Schwartz believes. Multiple studies support his assertion. He created Teachable Agents, an application where students teach a subject to a computer character then quiz and test the character– students find out how effectively they taught by how well the character scores. Schwartz's work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Education Sciences and the Wallenberg Global Learning Network, among others.