WWC review of this study

The Impacts of Three Educational Technologies on Algebraic Understanding in the Context of COVID-19 [ASSISTments with immediate feedback vs. Business-as-usual]

Decker-Woodrow, Lauren E.; Mason, Craig A.; Lee, Ji-Eun; Chan, Jenny Yun-Chen; Sales, Adam; Liu, Allison; Tu, Shihfen (2023). AERA Open v9 n1 p1-17 . Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED627889

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: December 2023

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Algebra outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Algebraic Knowledge Assessment (posttest)

ASSISTments with immediate feedback vs. Active Control Problem Sets with Post-Assignment Feedback

2 Weeks

Full sample - Immediate Feedback ;
747 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Female: 51%
    Male: 49%

  • Suburban
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  • Race
    Native American
    Other or unknown
    Pacific Islander
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
  • Eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch
    Other or unknown    


This study took place in grade 7 classrooms from one large district in the southeastern United States and included 9 suburban middle schools and 34 teachers. For students in the 8 schools providing in-person instruction, the study occurred during math classrooms. For students in the one school providing virtual instruction, the study assignments were given as part of the student’s home learning assignments.

Study sample

The researchers randomly assigned a total of 1,441 students within classrooms to the intervention group (722 students) or the comparison group (719 students). The analytic sample included 381 and 366 intervention and comparison students, respectively, in 143 classrooms taught by 34 grade 7 math teachers in 9 schools. Approximately 51% of the students were female, 53% White, 26% Asian, 4% Black, 1% American Indian, less than 1% Pacific Islander, and 16% of students had other or unknown race. The sample included 13% Hispanic students. The sample also included 7% students with individualized education programs.

Intervention Group

ASSISTments is an online homework platform that offers students immediate feedback and hints while they work on textbook-style problems. The problems are designed to be similar to those in traditional textbooks and homework assignments. Within ASSISTments, students solve problems one at a time, with the option to request hints when needed and receive instant feedback on their responses. Teachers receive class reports, enabling them to identify struggling students and challenging problems so they can tailor their classroom instruction accordingly. Intervention students were provided with a total of nine sessions throughout the academic year, each lasting for 30 minutes. They were given a two-week timeframe to complete each session. These sessions were divided into four in the fall semester and five in the spring semester. Before and after the intervention, students underwent assessments that lasted between 40 to 45 minutes, covering topics such as algebraic knowledge, mathematics anxiety, and self-efficacy. All interventions and assessments were conducted online, with students working independently at their own pace using electronic devices. For students receiving in-person instruction, teachers allocated dedicated instructional periods within mathematics classrooms for the study assignments. On the other hand, students who were receiving virtual instruction had the study assignments integrated into their online learning activities. The mathematical content included arithmetic and algebraic equation solving. A countdown timer was integrated into the system to ensure that students spent a similar amount of time using the technology. Students had the flexibility to pause and resume the timer, allowing for breaks and resumption at their convenience.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison condition received the same math content as the intervention group, including arithmetic and algebraic equation solving. Comparison students also completed assignments using the same types of technology offered to the intervention condition students. Students in the comparison condition received feedback after their assignments were complete, rather than during the exercise.

Support for implementation

The authors did not describe any support for implementation.


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