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ASSISTments at the #MathUnConference for Teachers

Neil Heffernan and Cristina Heffernan, founders of ASSISTments, explain why ASSISTments forever-free accounts support students' math learning.

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The Power of ASSISTments to Augment Teaching with Dr. Neil Heffernan

Listen to this podcast where ASSISTments co-founder joins Michael Palmer to talk about how his career interweaves great teaching, computer science, and “ASSISTments” – a set of digital tools designed to make homework assignment and evaluation more efficient.

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Failure to Disrupt: How ASSISTments Adapts Traditional Education

Watch ASSISTments co-founders Neil and Cristina Heffernan speak on adaptive tutors in Justin Reich's book club.

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How Crowdsourcing Can Transform Education

A Worcester Polytechnic Institute professor is spearheading innovative crowdsourcing research to help educators and students.

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College Town: WPI’s Online Math Teaching Tool Popular During Pandemic

An online math teaching tool developed at Worcester Polytechnic Institute has been used by thousands of teachers adjusting to distance learning during the pandemic.

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ASSISTments, a WPI-created Math Learning Tool, is Helping Thousands of Teachers Transition to Distance Learning

Since the shift to distance learning began in March more than 25,000 teacher from all 50 states and internationally have signed up for ASSISTments accounts.

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Researchers Awarded Record $56 Million During FY2020

Neil Heffernan, professor at WPI, received the largest award in FY 2019 - $4.98 million to scale and expand ASSISTments over the next five years.

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Proof Points: A crowdsourcing approach to homework help

Read more about our work on using teacher crowdsourcing to improve student learning in this article by Jill Barshay in The Hechinger Report.

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Poverty Action Lab Calls ASSISTments One of Two Most Promising Interventions

‍A study conducted at MIT's Poverty Action Lab was recently featured in the U.S. News & World Report concluded that ASSISTments is one of two promising educational technologies in the US. The study praised ASSISTments for its impact on student learning and the tool’s compatibility with schools’ existing curricula and textbooks.

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3 Lessons Learned From Education Technology Research

“We had the guts to expose ourselves” to randomized control trials, says ASSISTments founder Neil Heffernan in this US News & World Report article

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A Gift Born From Peril

The Boston Globe profiles ASSISTments founder Neil Heffernan, who tells the story of his experience as a middle school math teacher and how a brain tumor inspired him to start ASSISTments.

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A Web App Helps Teachers See Where Students Are Stumped

Listen in to Neil Heffernan on wbur radio show Here & Now.

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Online Mathematics Homework Program Developed at Worcester Polytechnic Institute to be the Subject of More Than $7 Million in Rigorous Research Studies

Two grants from the Institute for Educational Sciences (IES) totaling over $7 million have been awarded to education researchers studying the impact of ASSISTments. Large and rigorous randomized controlled trials of online education tools for K-12 education are difficult to conduct and analyze. These grants will build upon a prior ASSISTments trial conducted by SRI Education, which was important in that it provided hard, comparative evidence of the impact of education technology.

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TL Talk Radio Podcast

Podcast interview with ASSISTments co-founders Neil and Cristina Heffernan about their inspiration for ASSISTments, their dedication to research-backed impact and what’s next for the online platform.

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Commentary: Ed Tech Does Help Close the Achievement Gap — When It Supports Teachers

There’s no doubt that education technology can make a big difference in the classroom. But the facts show that the key to closing the achievement gap is not providing more technology to students, but rather putting the right ed tech into the hands of teachers.

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Don’t Eliminate Homework. Make it More Effective

In the United States, there is an ongoing debate about whether homework is worthwhile, with critics saying that it’s busywork at best and, at worst, it’s detrimental to student learning. Only, the problem isn’t homework itself but how homework is done. Instead of implementing “no homework” policies, WPI professor and ASSISTments founder Neil Heffernan proposes that we can and should use technology to improve how students do their homework — or at least their math homework.‍

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Maine schools experimenting with Web-based math homework

Middle school math classes have worked in much the same way for decades. Teachers send students home with a textbook and a set of problems. Students work out the solutions on paper and bring the answers in the next day. That changed at about 40 Maine schools, where students, mostly seventh-graders, tested out ASSISTments.

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Nurturing Persistent Problem Solving

A veteran math teacher puts ASSISTments to the test and reports on how second-year algebra students learn to persevere in completing homework assignments through the use of the online homework platform. She showcases the tool’s ability to deliver instant feedback and embed video explanations in problem sets.

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Researchers need to collaborate to address the challenges facing schools

ASSISTments serves as a unique shared scientific instrument in the social science world, continuing the forward push to do more randomized controlled experiments. Social science can reap the benefits of our cultural shift to the digital world and the many ways people interact with online platforms.

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Scientists Bring New Rigor to Education Research

Researchers are using tools borrowed from medicine and economics to figure out what works best in the classroom. Much of the new research goes beyond the simple metric of standardized tests to study learning in progress and the findings are beginning to fill in some blanks in that hugely complex puzzle called education.

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Study Shows WPI-developed Math Homework Tool Closes the Learning Gap

Results of a randomized control trial conducted by SRI Educational Research in public schools in Maine and published in the journal AERA Open by the American Education Research Association clearly quantify the benefits of ASSISTments.‍ The study shows that ASSISTments is effective in helping close the learning gap.

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The Machines Are Taking Over

The New York Times profiles husband and wife team, Neil and Cristina Heffernan, and how they chose to address the achievement gap through a computer program that can mimic the individualized feedback of a human tutor.‍

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Walpole teachers get an 'assist' from homework software

Read about the impact ASSISTmennts is having in two schools in Walpole, Massachusetts. Students whose teachers use the software say it’s like taking their teacher home with them.

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What Works Clearinghouse Gives Top Marks to WPI-Developed Homework Program

The What Works Clearinghouse, a highly regarded federal research review of education products, has reviewed the ASSISTments research and stated that the Efficacy Study “meets standards without reservations.”

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Who Decides if Ed Tech Even Works

A veteran math teacher puts ASSISTments to the test and reports on how second-year algebra students learn to persevere in completing homework assignments through the use of the online homework platform. She showcases the tool’s ability to deliver instant feedback and embed video explanations in problem sets.

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Persistence is not Always Productive: How to Stop Students from Spinning their Wheels

Students are often told to push themselves to the limit in the math classroom. But is this persistence always the most productive way for students to learn? ASSISTments founder Neil Heffernan weighs in about how students can move past spinning their wheels and start mastering math content.

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ASSISTments has Won $25 Million in Grants with next to no Business Structure or Marketing

While many EdTech tools and solutions might show promising results in small studies or certain conditions, very few prove effective at scale. That is not the case with ASSISTments. Led by Worcester Polytechnic Institute Professor Neil Heffernan, the free classroom assessment software has been shown to bring about remarkable academic gains. Read on to learn the story of how ASSISTments came to be and some of the challenges along the way.‍

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I Took a Break From the Classroom to Help Do Research. It Made Me a Stronger Teacher.

ASSISTments Ambassador Andrew Burnett was in his 15th year of teaching when he was asked to join the ASSISTments team. His task was to help conduct a long-term educational study by training and supporting the teachers that were participating in an independent research project. Andrew communicated with 70 teachers all around the Northeast about implementing ASSISTments in their classrooms. Read on to learn Andrew's story and how he has transformed his teaching practices.

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Are teachers misusing homework? Beyond the question of whether or not to assign it

How much, if any, homework should elementary school students receive? It is an age-old and ongoing debate. But the discussion misses a fundamental part of the controversy: Teachers often don’t take advantage of homework as an instructional tool. Neil Heffernan weighs in about how homework can be utilized best to enhance student learning.

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U.S. Department of Education Awards Worcester Polytechnic Institute $8 Million to Scale and Expand ASSISTments

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), in partnership with The ASSISTments Foundation, has been awarded an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Program.

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Online homework tools trade ‘busy work’ for feedback to help end inequities in schools

The use of technology is growing in schools, but we’re missing critical opportunities if technology isn’t being used to close the pernicious achievement gaps between students of color and their white peers and between low-income students and their more affluent peers. WPI professor and ASSISTments founder Neil Heffernan weighs in on the importance of using tech tools to address inequity in schools.

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Schools Don’t Need to Ban Homework, They Just Need to Make It Better

School districts around the country are doing away with homework, according to the latest education headlines. But research clearly shows that the solution to homework isn’t to abolish it. WPI professor and ASSISTments founder Neil Heffernan weighs in on why we need to make homework as effective and relevant as possible, so students can still learn when their teachers or family aren’t available to help them.

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Neil Heffernan and ASSISTments: $35 Million and Counting

Heffernan has received more than $35 million in federal grants for his work in learning sciences and with ASSISTments, in part because he is relentless in pursuing funding from a number of agencies, though he says he “tries more and fails more” in submitting grant applications. Last year ASSISTments was used by more than 2,500 teaches in 46 states and 14 countries.

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ASSISTments: From Research to Practice at Scale in Education

Over the past 13 years, ASSISTments was developed and evaluated with the support of a series of IES and National Science Foundation awards. With a 2003 IES award to Carnegie Mellon University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), researchers created the first version of ASSISTments.

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

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.

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Bouygues: Online Learning Is Here to Stay — But Don’t Abandon Pencil and Paper Just Yet

Educators — and families — should be careful about overly relying on screens for learning, and research shows that education delivered on tablets and laptops can lead to missed opportunities. Helen Lee Boygues describes the results of a study designed using ASSISTments: students who used pencil and paper received higher scores than their peers who went without pencil and paper.

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Algebra That Fits With Career Goals May Be Key To Math-Loving Kids

Studies have found that students would enjoy math more if they could see a clear connection between their learning and their future. Math researcher Candace Walkington was awarded a grant to use ASSISTments to study the impact of interest-focused algebra problems on student success and connectedness with STEM careers.

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ASSISTments Efficacy Study Highlighted in new JREE Publication

In a new publication, ASSISTments was found to boost student learning, particularly for students with lower prior mathematics achievement.

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