Review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2018

ASSISTments

Fortify learning with assignment scaffolding, feedback, and support

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
1–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (7 Reviews)

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Pros: Free, well-designed program gives students immediate support and compiles the data to help inform and improve instruction.

Cons: Creating content and editing included materials requires much time and energy; overall assignment effectiveness depends on teacher time investment.

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

Tools like ASSISTments can help teachers monitor student progress and concept mastery by letting teachers choose the amount of scaffolding and support they want to give their students. At the start of a unit, assign a pretest in order to identify students' needs. During the unit, assign short question sets to monitor understanding and identify areas that need reteaching or clarification, whether it be for one student, several, or an entire class. At the conclusion, assess for understanding while still allowing students the option of helpful hints and resources that can serve to solidify learning and provide teachers with both formative and summative assessment data. 

Teachers will want to spend some time really looking at the content before assigning it -- 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 a cause for student disengagement. Instead, take the time to use the plethora of content and the data to your and your students' advantage by choosing relevant age- and ability-appropriate questions.

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ASSISTments is a tool for assigning work that supports greater student learning through the use of scaffolding, hints, and immediate feedback. At its core, the site is an online form of homework with the added optional perk of help in the form of hints, videos, links, and more embedded in each question. Teachers create (or import from Google Classroom) sections of classes and then assign work to a specific section. Once this happens, students will be able to access assignments and complete them at their own pace.

Teachers can create their own content through the Builder page or choose from both user-created and certified questions available on the site. Initially, teachers must put time into searching through the provided content in order to assign relevant work. Once this preparation is done, it's a straightforward program to implement. When students complete the assignments, teachers will have access to a report that shows who answered correctly, when hints were used, when the work was completed, and how long it took each student to answer each question. There's even an option for students to show their work; however, since there's no drawing feature, it might be better to have students explain their thought process for just one or two questions. ASSISTments will break down the data by question and show the trends of incorrect answers. With this information, teachers can go over specific questions in class to drive home a concept or skill.

ASSISTments makes it easier for teachers to support their students and help them meet their learning goals. The program is designed with potential for engagement and encourages students to work hard through scaffolding and hints that are available for each question. Although the students have little choice about the type of work they complete, the program is adaptable and responsive. The assignments and skill-builder programs assess student understanding and reinforce foundational knowledge. When students struggle with a concept, they don't have to search through a textbook to find help; instead, they click the hint button. Both students and teachers have access to reports from the assignments so that students can monitor their own progress as teachers make necessary adjustments.

The program relies on text to communicate and help students through problems, which might be difficult for students with specific needs. That said, teachers can edit the content to include more visual and audio resources. Overall, this is a comprehensive tool for assigning content and assessing skills, but its success depends on the teacher's hard work in advance.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Students receive instant feedback for assignments, and the support caters to students' individual progress; however, the work is similar to what students might do in textbooks and only slightly more engaging.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

There's potential for student mastery of concepts and skills, but this largely depends on how well teachers design assignments and to what extent they include scaffolding, hints, and resources.

 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The content is text-based but can be edited to include hints, images, and videos that enable teachers to better meet individual students' needs. A drawing feature would be a useful addition to the Show Work option.


Common Sense Reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

Teacher Reviews

(See all 7 reviews) (7 reviews) Write a review
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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