Stumped by How to Best Serve Students With At-Home Learning? Follow the Evidence

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With schools around the country closed, educators are being asked to support at-home learning. University of Toronto Professor Philip Oreopoulos speaks of promising educational programs like ASSISTments, which has resulted in impressive academic gains in multiple randomized controlled trials.

Quick summary:

With schools around the country closed and reopening dates uncertain, education leaders are being asked to support at-home learning on an unprecedented scale. How can schools and districts best serve students who are stuck at home for the indefinite future? Fortunately, rigorous evidence points to a number of effective uses of technology, sometimes combined with low-tech activities, that can help educators and learners adjust to this new normal.

One promising program that was studied is ASSISTments, which resulted in impressive academic gains over different grades, based on multiple studies comparing gains of students randomly assigned to ASSISTments or some other program. Through this free online platform, teachers can assign customized math homework and assess student progress on assignments remotely. Students also receive immediate feedback as they solve problems, which may be particularly useful when teachers can’t look over students’ shoulders or call them to the board in classrooms. One randomized study found that even using the program for less than an average of 10 minutes per night, three to four nights per week, led to substantial learning. Two others also found large effects from using the program regularly in class and at home.

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