Media Contact
June 07, 2010

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ASSISTment, a powerful intelligent mathematics tutoring system developed at WPI that is helping students learn and schools track students' progress, was the focus of a recent article in the (Worcester) Telegram & Gazette. The story focused on a demonstration of the web-based tutor for teachers and administrators from schools throughout central Massachusetts.

Funded by more than $9 million in federal research funds, ASSISTment was created by a team of scientists led by Neil Heffernan, associate professor of computer science (above, with a student at Worcester East Middle School). The demonstration, before an eighth grade mathematics class at Oak Middle School in Shrewsbury, Mass., was an opportunity for teachers and administrators to see what the classroom of the future will look like, a classroom where new technologies like ASSISTment will enhance student learning, improve teacher productivity, and raise the overall quality of education without placing burdens on school budgets or resources.

The system demonstrated in Shrewsbury helps students learn mathematics by presenting them with problems and then offering carefully structured assistance if they struggle. By recording students' attempts to answer questions and the help they request, the system also assesses which concepts they have mastered and which they still need to work on. It has been adopted for use throughout grade 7 and 8 algebra classes in the Worcester Public School System as well as in schools in Fitchburg, Leicester, and Shrewsbury.

In related research, an ASSISTment tutoring system for middle school science is being developed by a team led by Janice Gobert, associate professor of social science and policy studies. That team, which is also working closely with a number of area school systems, has received more nearly $3 million in funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education.