Worcester Polytechnic Institute K-12 Tech Innovation

Neil Heffernan ASSISTments

The Innovation: ASSISTments

Teachers collect and analyze more and more student data, yet every minute of class time spent testing is a minute of lost instructional time. ASSISTments is a free, web-based platform that solves this dilemma by providing 7th-9th grade students with individual feedback while assessing their learning progress:

  • The system tutors students and recognizes wrong answers as indicators that students have not mastered prerequisite concepts or process skills. It uses this logic to apply appropriate assistance and provide the right feedback at the right time for students to develop a deeper understanding of underlying concepts.
  • Teachers also receive immediate feedback in the form of reports to help drive their instruction and to review the areas of greatest student needs. The system’s flexibility allows teachers to use and edit ASSISTments content or to build and share their own content.
  • A parent notification feature involves parents in their children’s studies and performance.

Common Core State Standards: ASSISTments’ content aligns with many of the math and ELA standards. Users can tag system content so teachers can get detailed CCSS reports.

ASSISTments teacher testimonial
Teacher Testimonial: Powerful Data Tool
ASSISTments teacher testimonial
Teacher Testimonial: Enhancing College Readiness
ASSISTments teacher testimonial
Teacher Testimonial: Parent Notification Feature
ASSISTments teacher testimonial
Teacher Testimonial: Mistakes Mean You Are Learning

Results Achieved:  Peer reviewed studies have shown ASSISTments leads to higher student learning:

"I LOVE IT!! The time spent going over homework each day has decreased in my class. I can spend more time going over the problems we need to, instead of all of them. Students are able to figure their mistakes they may make while doing their homework at the time they are doing it. No more waiting to see if you got them right or not; students instantly know by submitting answers and looking at their item report."  
—Shelley Cyr, Math Teacher, Hermon Middle School in Hermon, ME 

Long term Goals: 

  • To enable every student in America to get immediate feedback on his or her homework every night
  • To give teachers the data they need to inform their instruction
  • To further ASSISTments’ value as a tool for researchers in order to find out what works in education

The Grant Project:

Worcester Polytechnic Institute received an NGLC grant in June 2011.

The grant enabled ASSISTments to focus on teacher support and outreach through the development of its informational website, social media, and training.

Today, ASSISTments has evolved into an ecosystem of researchers, schools, parents, funders, and state partners, working together to help students learn. Hundreds of teachers in the U.S. use ASSISTments—and that number continues to grow.

Principal Investigator: Neil T. Heffernan, Professor, Department of Computer Science & Co-Director of the Learning Sciences and Technologies PhD Program

Partners:

  • CELT: Leadership, Learning, and Technology for the 21st Century
  • The National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • Edutopia