Website review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2020

ASSISTments

Functional (but not flashy) tool helps with assessing math skills

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
Community rating
Based on 7 reviews
Privacy rating
Not yet rated Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
2–12
Subjects & Skills
Math, Critical Thinking
Great for

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Pros: Students get immediate support, and teachers get instant data to help inform and improve instruction.

Cons: Content library is good but not well-organized. It could use a better way to save and modify problem sets. No drawing feature.

Bottom Line: With purposeful planning, it's a simple, solid, and free tool for gathering critical data to support students' academic growth.

Get students started with the tutorial so that they become accustomed to the types of questions and feedback they can expect. From there, customizable sets of problems allow teachers to target specific skills and concepts for their classes and receive valuable feedback to assess whether kids are struggling or need more challenging content. ASSISTments works best as a way to create a formative dialogue around homework. Teachers can use the feedback from particular problems -- perhaps even projecting the class's results -- to dig into those problems that students struggled with and related examples. As a unit progresses, teachers can assign short skill builder sets to continually monitor understanding and identify areas that need reteaching or clarification. At the end, summative assessments check for understanding while still offering students helpful hints and resources that can serve to solidify learning.

Teachers will want to spend some time really looking at the question sets before assigning from them: There's a risk that some might be tempted to assign questions indiscriminately or in high quantities. This would be a mistake and almost certainly get students to check out. Instead, take the time to use the plethora of questions and the data to your and your students' advantage, choosing relevant questions that keep student readiness in mind.

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ASSISTments is a free tool for assigning and assessing math problems and homework. Teachers can select and assign problem sets from providers like Eureka Math and Illustrative Math, the Common Core, or various textbook curricula or state assessments. Questions range from Skill Builders to Problem Sets to Exit Tickets, and all work can be assigned through Canvas or Google Classroom. Once they get an assignment, students can complete it at their own pace and with the help of hints, multiple chances, and immediate feedback. Teachers get instant results broken down by individual student or for the whole class.

Teachers must initially put time into searching through the folders of content, organized by skills and concepts and identified by problem set IDs. This organization is a little odd, but once teachers have their favorite problem sets identified, things get easier. When students complete the assignments, teachers will have access to a time-stamped report that shows who answered correctly, when hints were used, and how long it took each student to complete the set. Students can also see how they did relative to the class. Students also have the option to show their work via a file upload; however, since there's no drawing feature, teachers might prefer to have students explain their thought process in writing instead. ASSISTments will break down the data by question and show the trends of incorrect answers. With this information in hand, teachers can go over specific questions in class to drive home a concept or skill.

ASSISTments helps teachers assign math problems and then monitor student progress and concept mastery. The instant feedback also encourages teachers to use students' results as a way to drive further instruction and reinforcement. The problems are similar to what students would encounter in textbooks or on tests, but they offer more immediate feedback and potential for engagement. Although the students have little choice about the type of work they complete, the program is flexible and responsive. Teachers will be aware when students struggle with a concept, because the coded response icons provide a snapshot of how students fared. While the feedback doesn't account for correct guesses, teachers can require students to submit images of their work to verify understanding. 

Both students and teachers have access to reports from the assignments, so students can view their progress as teachers make necessary adjustments. These reports enable teachers to be responsive to the needs of their classes and recover lost instructional time by providing insight into specific areas in need of reinforcement. Overall, this is a practical tool that supports data-informed instructional practices, but its success depends on the teacher's ongoing work to monitor student progress and adjust instruction. ASSISTments also has room to grow and could be even more useful from a design and features perspective. Its content could be better organized -- more easily searchable and saved -- and it might evolve to include drawing tools or more customizable problem sets. Even so, this is a free tool worth checking out as an option to turn the hard work of math into a more formative dialogue.

Overall Rating

Engagement

Students receive instant coded feedback for assignments that can lead to increased motivation; however, the work is similar to what students might do in textbooks and only slightly more engaging.

Pedagogy

Standards-aligned content creates the potential for student mastery. Teachers are encouraged to turn homework into a dialogue that benefits both individuals and the class as a whole.

 

Support

The library of problem sets allows teachers to develop assessments based on students' learning needs. A drawing feature would be a useful addition to the Show Work option.


Common Sense reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Cathy A. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Brewer Community School
Brewer, United States
Know who in your classroom understands.
I use it for my homework assignments. It is easy to write in my problems and once done, can be reused yearly. This is my third year using Assistments and I love it. I also assign "Skills" to my students for the extra practice that is so important. It is easy to personalize for various students and the reports make it easy to see how and what they are doing. I HIGHLY recommend this to teacher to both help their students and make their lives easer as well.
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