EIR Midphase

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), in partnership with The ASSISTments Foundation, has been awarded an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Program.

This five year grant, led by Professor Neil Heffernan, Co-Director of the Learning Sciences and Technologies Program at WPI will be used to scale ASSISTments, a responsive online technology tool based in learning science, into mathematics classrooms across the country. This project will focus on high-needs middle school students in predominantly rural areas.

This award is an EIR Mid-Phase grant and provides funding to interventions that have demonstrated their effectiveness. The grant allows for the scale up of operations for the intervention allowing it to improve academic achievement, particularly for high-need students. The EIR Program seeks to “create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students; and rigorously evaluate such innovations.”

In mid-April 2019, the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse published a federal research review of the ASSISTments Efficacy Trial and found the study to “meet standards without reservations.” In order to achieve this status the study of the intervention needed to have had “positive effects without reservation”. This evaluation provides evidence that ASSISTments is one of only a handful of proven interventions in the U.S.

Peer Learning Communities will meet online to learn how best to incorporate ASSISTments in their classrooms.

The EIR Mid-Phase grant will allow ASSISTments to drastically scale its user base, while working to improve the user experience and develop new product features. As part of this grant, WPI and The ASSISTments Foundation are collaborating with Lesley University, which will create online Professional Learning Communities and with WestEd, who will conduct the evaluation.

Summary of project objectives and expected outcomes:

● Objective 1. Create and test strategies for improving teacher adoption and implementation.

● Objective 2. Implement ASSISTments with the recruited treatment study teachers

● Objective 3. Rigorously evaluate the impact of ASSISTments for homework

● Objective 4. Disseminate Findings and support the infrastructure

Recruitment is ongoing.