Q: How is ASSISTments different from tools like Canvas, Schoology or Google Classroom?
A: These tools are learner management systems. Their function is to manage all the pieces of a classroom. While these platforms have quizzing tools they are not as full function as ASSISTments. That said, a teacher can use ASSISTments to collect and create assignments and then deliver them through Canvas or Google Classroom so that students do not need to create an account in a ASSISTments.
Importantly, ASSISTments is more robust to the quizzing tools in Canvas, Schoology and Google Classroom. With ASSISTments teachers have easy access to complete question banks for whatever textbook they are using and an easy to use system to compile questions from that bank and deliver them to their students. Teachers also have a way to share content with each other.
When students receive the assignment they get immediate feedback and get to try again. All of these actions are recorded (the number of attempts, the time on task etc) and reported to the teacher. The basic results for each student and each problem on an assignment are delivered in a report that teachers find extremely helpful in streamlining homework review. If needed they can dig down into more detailed reports on individual students to help them understand the student's actions.
Using ASSISTments becomes a vital tool in supporting the feedback involved in formative assessment, leaving the teacher free to address needs that show up on the reports. The immediate feedback at home allows students to learn as they do their assignments.
Q: How is ASSISTments different from other math tools like IXL, Khan Academy or ALEX?
A: The biggest difference with these tools and ASSISTments is that they are set content and ASSISTments is a completely flexible system. There is content in ASSISTments but teachers can select what they want to assign or even build their content. This allows ASSISTments to fit in seamlessly with existing practices of the district and classroom. For this study, the team at WPI will input the questions and answers for any textbook or other materials that the teacher is currently using, allowing them to continue with existing practices while also adding the benefits of immediate feedback and detailed reports to their teaching routine.
Another difference is in the typical way in which these tools are used compared to ASSISTments. Many of these tools are promoted as ways for students to proceed at their own pace, they have systems for tracking accomplishments as students progress. The focus of ASSISTments is as a formative tool for teachers to know how well their students are performing on current topics. This is why flexibility is so important, with the teacher in charge the teacher must be able to select the content that will inform their instruction. ASSISTments then takes care of providing immediate feedback to the student and reports to the teacher. The teachers and student then uses that information to inform teaching and learning.
Q: Can I use ASSISTments without being in the study?
A: Not if you teach 7th grade. Schools in North Carolina may only be able to use ASSISTments if they participate in the study.