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What’s it like to be in an ASSISTments Research Study?

Recently we launched the ASSISTments Impact Study, a study funded by the US Department of Education in order to learn more about what works in education. We’re recruiting 7th grade teachers across the country who are new or novice ASSISTments users; to study their use of ASSISTments, provide high quality professional development and offer up to $1,300 in stipends.

You can find out more details on that, including how to apply, here.

But what does it mean to be in a research study? What is it like? Why does it matter? How does it affect those involved, both teachers and students? We talked to two teachers who have participated in previous research studies with ASSISTmentsto find out those answers, and more!

Megan Randolph is a 7th Grade Math teacher at Centennial Middle School. She uses ASSISTments in her classroom and decided she wanted to get involved in one of our research studies. “I chose to get involved with research because I have enjoyed using ASSISTments in the classroom and was interested to learn more,” Megan recounts, “Education is an ever evolving realm and without making the necessary improvements, we cannot fully meet the needs of the students that come into our classrooms each year”.

Joaquine Pina who is also a 7th Grade Math teacher, except on the other side of the country in the Crane School District, says his school joined a research study because they wanted to make their math instruction stronger: “Teachers should love the science and the data from research to help guide them into seeing what works and what could be done better.” Indeed research studies are all about understanding better what works in math education and how ASSISTments can be an even stronger tool for instruction and learning. 

If you’d like to participate in the current study the process is simple: all 7th grade teachers at your school join together. Some schools will begin using ASSISTments immediately, other schools will start by continuing their existing methods. Throughout the study all participating teachers take part in surveys, interviews and data collection about their instruction that contributes valuable data to the field of math learning. All participating 7th grade teachers will also get the benefit of professional development (that your 6th grade teachers are invited to join too!). And all participating teachers earn up to $1,300 in stipends.

For Joaquine, participating in the study was an opportunity to try ASSISTments as a new tool that made things “a lot smoother” with his existing curriculum and class routines. For Meghan, ASSISTments was already a familiar tool, but the study she participated in gave her deeper professional development.  

Megan says, “Being a part of this study has made me grow. I am able to put students on the level that they need to be on for their optimal academic growth.” Teachers participating in the ASSISTments Impact Study will get personal and targeted professional development and join virtual professional learning communities with like minded teachers around the study. They will receive specialized training on effective use of ASSISTments as part of a collaborative and supportive learning experience led by experts in math pedagogy... .” 

One of the best parts about participating in the research process is that it doesn’t disrupt teachers’ class routines, or take away from instructional time. It’s simply an enhancement. Megan reported that her class time was made more effective. She says, “Students who were fully active within the platform and completed the assigned lessons were able to comprehend topics that they were considered to have gaps in and as a result would score better on classroom exams.”  

In Joaquine’s words, “The impact was amazing! These students had unbelievable gains because of the formula we created as a daily routine.” The study provided the framework but it’s teachers like Megan and Joaquine (and you!) who make the magic happen. These classrooms are prime examples of how students can benefit from your participation in a research study. 

So what does Joaquine have to say about participating? “Our school is ready for year two! We’ll be pushing this program to the next level with higher thinking, more user friendly options for the students and helping each student grow at their own speed.”  As for Megan, “Overall, the ASSISTments program has been extremely beneficial with our students over the past school year. It allowed us to see each student for their own individual levels and provided an efficient way to collect the students’ work.”

At the time of this writing Centennial Middle school’s entire 7th grade math team has joined the study and they have been able to witness first hand how much it impacts their students overall learning. (Note: For the ASSISTments Impact Study 7th Grade teachers join together as a group and 6th grade teachers may also receive free professional development (PD) training and a stipend.) Joining as a team develops a community around the tool. But don’t just take their word for it; apply to be in the ASSISTments Impact Study here and contribute your expertise to improving what we know about math education!