One common concern that I’ve heard from teachers centers around the availability of the “Show Answer” button when students are completing problems in an ASSISTments problem set. To address these concerns, I have developed norms that teachers can share with students in order to get the highest level of student investment and, as a result, the best quality data on student progress. First and foremost, students must know that teachers can easily see when students click this button in item reports. I recommend that teachers show what this looks like in their class-level report as they explain this to students in order to underscore the point. Second, students must know how the teacher will respond when the “Show Answer” button has been used. Here is an example explanation:
When you click the “Show Answer” button, I will think one of two things. Either you do not understand the material or you were trying to get through the assignment with as little effort as possible. In either of these cases, reteaching and additional problems will be necessary. Some of you may think that clicking “Show Answer” will decrease the amount of effort you need to put into class. However this is not true, no student is exempt from demonstrating mastery on the material.
Making sure that teachers transparently communicate expectations and consequences around tools used in the classroom is critical if teachers and students are to make the most of these tools. Explaining teacher thinking to students is a great way for them to understand why the “Show Answer” button is not an easy way out but is actually an invitation for assistance.
Finally, teachers must set their own routines for how they differentiate tasks for students who click the “Show Answer” button in any given assignment. While teachers can click a student’s name in any assignment to view their time-log and number of answer attempts, which will help them differentiate between struggling students and low-effort students, they should also be prepared to engage in reteaching, assigning new problems, resetting progress on old problem sets, and assigning class consequences for students who continue not to comply with the norms and expectations.
If the teacher keeps these things in mind, the “Show Answer” button will promote data conversations between teachers and students and bolster the shift toward students owning and acting on their own data.
Brian Story is our ASSISTments contact in North Carolina. Before joining us, Brian worked as a high school teacher, lead teacher, and organizer of Math and English remediation programs. Brian is excited to be a part of the ASSISTments team because, “It gives me the chance to help teachers integrate technology into their classrooms in a way that actually improves the student experience."