Khan Academy Can Play a Big Role in Student Success


St. Paul’s students that are having trouble in some of their subjects can get help outside the classroom with Khan Academy, an online tutorial program that educates students in a variety of subjects, but is primarily known for science and math.

“I like Khan Academy because it allows students to learn by exploring math firsthand. The student does not have to be told what to do, but rather be encouraged to excel through discovery,” SPS Algebra I and Geometry Teacher Alex Lacour said.

This sample math video screenshot shows how tutorial videos illustrate concepts step by step. (source: Kahn Academy)
This screen shot of a tutorial from the Khan Academy website, called “Why Distance is Area” under “Velocity-Time Line,” shows an example of how concepts are taught step-by-step. (source: Kahn Academy)

According to the company website, Khan Academy first started when Sal Khan’s cousin Nadia was having trouble with unit conversions and needed his help. The problem was, Sal was in Boston while Nadia was in New Orleans. Sal started tutoring Nadia online and with videos. He began posting tutorial videos on YouTube in 2006 because there was such a high demand for his tutoring. As user levels rose, he started Kahn Academy.

Lacour said that when he worked as a math teacher in Prague, he had all of his students sign into Khan Academy regularly. He could track their progress and see what other math concepts they were interested in. The students who wanted to be challenged more had a chance to test their skills with the website. Lacour noted he would assign Khan Academy to his SPS students today, but thinks it would be too much of a workload with mathXL and other assignments given in class. However, he feels that those needing extra help could benefit from using it on their own.

“Khan Academy is an extra resource that I think more students should take advantage of,” Lacour said.

According to Assistant Principal Joseph Dickens, Khan Academy has helps students increase their PSAT scores. In the future, Khan Academy will help students with ACT prep, as well. And College Board started sending their SAT test prep material to Khan Academy, Dickens said.

Khan Academy offers a vast variety of school subjects including math, science, arts, and humanities. Students can watch short video clips and can get a visual concept of what they have to do.

“Khan Academy could soon grow to where there are more home school students rather than going to school,” Dickens said.

According to Dickens, SPS students have used Kahn Academy mainly for science and math, both to help understand the material and catch up on missed work.

“While I rarely use Khan Academy, I can attest to its success,” senior Casey Fitzmaurice said. “As a sophomore, I used Khan to get through a biology test I had to take after missing the entire chapter due to illness, and I managed to pass with a B.”


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