Year Long Study on Homework

Background and Overview

IES supported a rigorous study in Maine. In 2012, the institute of education Sciences awarded SRI International and its partners, Worcester Polytechnic Instittue (WPI) and the university of Maine with a grant to conduct rigorous research on Online Mathematics Homework in Middle School. SRI paired participating schools with similar achievement levels, and then randomly assigned them to either use ASSISTments or continue with their existing homework practices. Teachers in the ASSISTments group were trained to use the tool to adapt instruction to their students’ needs. After a warm-up year, the teachers continued with using ASSISTments with their new students for another full school year. At the end of the full year, students in both groups took the same standardized mathematics test. Over 2800 students from 43 schools in Maine participated in the study. Participants were 7th grade mathematics teachers and their students. Data collection ended in June 2015.


The Findings

  • Teachers targeted their homework reviews to focus on student difficulties and errors.
  • Students had significantly higher end-of-year mathematics achievement. The use of ASSISTments caused 75% more learning than in a typical year.
  • Online homework had a greater impact for students with low prior achievement.
report of low knowledge student performing better
ASSISTments helps to close the achievement gap

Teachers did two things as part of the study:

1) Textbook Work:
Student doing homework with a book and a computer.
Students use their textbook and do their homework on paper. After completing each problem...

Image of math problem on a computer,
...they enter their answers into ASSISTments to see if they are correct or incorrect.
Image of report with individual data and summary data
Teachers use a report to help to drive the instruction and review of the assignment

2) The Skill Practice
Students working on iPads
Students practice their skills using the skill Builders available on ASSISTments.
Math problem on computer
They must answer three questions correctly in a row to complete the Skill Builder.
Report of student results on problems solved
Teachers use the Skill Builder report to identify and intervene with students that are struggling.

Read the research paper

Rochelle, J., Feng, M., Murphy, R. & Mason, C. (2016). Online Mathematics Homework Increases Student Achievement. AERA OPEN. October-December 2016, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 1-12. DOI:10.1177/23328416673968

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