IM4 – match, map, monitor, meet

An app to close the gap between research and students’ lives

More districts and educators will be able to follow Clay Cook’s recipe for promoting social-emotional learning with a new web-based application called IM4.

The IM4 Education app uses Cook’s evidence-based problem-solving process to efficiently organize and deliver interventions to students based on the intensity of their mental and behavioral health needs. Similar to tax software that many people use, the system asks for specific, observed inputs and then determines the intervention that research indicates would have the greatest likelihood of success for an individual student. The app will be available to schools beginning with the 2018–19 academic year.

“Schools often struggle to support students with social, emotional, and behavioral problems,” Cook explains. “With IM4, the expertise is built in, so educators can better understand the supports students need and gather data that informs timely and accurate decisions.”

“It’s about enhancing capacity within schools to facilitate effective intervention programming from beginning to end.”

IM4 stands for the four steps of the program: matching, mapping, monitoring, and meeting.

Match is the first step in the IM4 problem-solving process, which guides educators through a data-driven decision-making process to select the right intervention for the right student.

Map, the second step, means developing a plan to ensure the core components of the matched intervention are delivered with fidelity. The map includes important dates—such as the intervention start date and meetings to review data—and information about the way data will be collected to inform decisions.

The third step monitors the student’s response to the intervention and delivery of the intervention with fidelity. According to Cook, both of these data sources are critical to making decisions within a problem-solving process. At this step, educators will be able to view a dashboard—with progress-monitoring graphs and rubrics—that tracks the student’s response to the intervention.

Meeting as a team is the final step in the problem-solving process. This happens roughly four to six weeks after the intervention start date. Educators review data and make decisions about whether to stop, change, or continue the intervention programming.

The power to integrate

“I think of technology as having the power to integrate research findings that are otherwise difficult for practitioners in everyday school settings to access,” says Cook. “I realized that technology is an answer to researchers’ efforts to get our research actually used to benefit young people.”

Cook was at the University of Washington when he started to think about the role technology might play in implementing proven interventions. When he moved to Minnesota, CEHD’s Education Technology Innovations (ETI) was poised to turn his thinking into reality.

“I wanted to create something that is really a bridge between science and practice,” he remembers. “My motivation as a researcher is to build that bridge—how to close the gap between research and practice to promote students’ quality of life.”

Cook went to work with the ETI team, and they built the bridge.


For more information, including a demo of the app, go to www.im4education.com.

Learn more about ETI at eti.umn.edu.

Return to Back to school with social-emotional learning.

Story by Sarah Jergenson | Photos courtesy of IM4 | Fall 2018