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Research Results

There are two types of research reports here: 1) peer-reviewed results that show ASSISTments is effective and 2) qualitative reports describing how it is used in schools.

Quantitative Research Articles with Empirical Results showing ASSISTments works

Professor Heffernan was asked to brief 200 state leaders from departments of education on the future of assessments that is embedded into instruction. If you want to read just one paper that talks about some of the research results we have, this is the paper to read.

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Students who use ASSISTments for homework learn more

Watch how it changes the classroom.

Here are two peer-reviewed studies that show ASSISTments causes dramatically increased student knowledge when it is used for immediate feedback while student do their homework. This is compared to a control condition that represents traditional practice where students get feedback then next day in class. The first study is with 5th graders and the second study with 8th graders. Read more about homework here.

  • Mendicino, M., Razzaq, L. & Heffernan, N. T. (2009). Comparison of Traditional Homework with Computer Supported Homework. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(3), 331-359. PDF
  • Singh, R., Saleem, M., Pradhan, P., Heffernan, C., Heffernan, N., Razzaq, L. & Dailey, M. (2011). Improving K-12 Homework with Computers. Proceedings of the Artificial Intelligence in Education Conference 2011, pp.328-336 PDF

ASSISTments can help close gaps in student achievement by giving different types of feedback to different children

Here is a representative article concerning student learning showing student learning is maximized by individualizing feedback to students.

  • Razzaq, L. & Heffernan, N. (2009). To Tutor or Not to Tutor: That is the Question. In Dimitrova, Mizoguchi, du Boulay & Graesser (Eds.) Proceedings of the 2009 Artificial Intelligence in Education Conference. pp. 457-464. ISO Press, Netherlands. Honorable Mention for Best Student Paper [1].

ASSISTments feature called ARRS causes better retention

If you are interested in Automatic Reassessment and Retention System where students are reassessed on skills they have mastered, here is a study showing the ARRS system leads more learning than students not reassessed.

  • Heffernan, N., Heffernan, C., Dietz, K., Soffer, D., Pellegrino, J. W., & Goldman, S. R. (2012). Improving Mathematical Learning Outcomes Through Automatic Reassessment and Relearning. AERA 2012 pdf
    • We have a study in preparation showing the value of using skill builder that given student practice on a topic until they reach mastery (the literature often calls this "Mastery Learning".)
      • Heffernan, N., Heffernan, C., Dietz, K., Soffer, D., Fowler, M., Pellegrino, & J. W., Goldman. (in preparation). Does using mastery learning on prerequisite skills two weeks before a unit cause more learning in the unit? A controlled trial with random assignment at the student level.

ASSISTments Parent Notification feature causes improvements

There are two randomized controlled trails of the Parent Notification System where it was found that parents who were randomly assigned to the experimental condition reported gains in feeling connected to what was happening in their child's Math Class and how their child was doing.

  • Broderick, Z., O’Connor, C., Mulcahy, C., Heffernan, N. & Heffernan, C. (2012). Increasing Parent Engagement in Student Learning Using an Intelligent Tutoring System. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 22(2), 523-550. PDF. Broderick has a second paper submitted that shows in a randomized controlled study better homework completion rate. His results are available in his thesis.

Students who used ASSISTments learned more as shown by state test scores

In this paper we report on the finding that schools that used ASSISTments learned more on the state test compared to a school in the same city that did not adopt ASSISTments.

  • Koedinger, K., McLaughlin, E. & Heffernan, N. (2010). A Quasi-Experimental Evaluation of an On-line Formative Assessment and Tutoring System. Journal of Educational Computing Research. 4,489 - 510. PDF

ASSISTments is a good assessor of student knowledge

This article focuses on the assessment results of interest to Educators.

  • Feng, M., Heffernan, N.T., & Koedinger, K.R. (2009). Addressing the assessment challenge in an Intelligent Tutoring System that tutors as it assesses. The Journal of User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction, 19, 243-266. See more about this article here.

Qualitative reports that talk about how teachers use ASSISTments

Other Qualitative pieces that describe ASSISTments

Other empirical work listed by year

Screen shot 2011-05-21 at 7.51.39 AM.pngFor a complete list of Publications click here

Here are some of the scientific publications using ASSISTments. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Dr. Heffernan at or Cristina Heffernan at

Every one of these papers listed is peer reviewed. Acceptance rates of most of these venues were in middle 30% (meaning that 70% were rejected).

For the most up to date listing of publications please visit Neil Heffernan's CV page. There are other scientist that use ASSISTments including Ryan Baker, Joe Beck, Janice Gobert, Ken Koedinger, Brian Junker, Beth Ayers, Pat McGuire, and others who have written papers not involving Neil Heffernan and can be found on their own web pages.

This page was created by Christina Heffernan (2010).

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