Stipend for participation and free professional development for teachers!

Past Research

MathSpring was developed and supported in part through these National Science Foundation grants: DRL #1324385, DRL#11049425, DRL #1109642 and DRL #0705554 by UMass Amherst's College of Information and Computer Sciences and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). To even more precisely measure MathSpring’s impact, the current study will be conducted at a larger scale and with a more rigorous experimental design. Researchers also hope to learn about how students’ mindsets can affect learning outcomes, and about the role technology can play in supporting student engagement and, ultimately, math learning.

Initial testing has shown promising results:

  • 10,000 students in Central and Western Massachusetts have used the system
  • Academically oriented: The projects’ potential impact on education and learning outcomes is clear
  • System recognizes student emotion (boredom, frustration, interest)
  • System uses several interventions (review of skills; collaboration with other students)
  • Students gain nearly a letter grade when using the system
  • 10% improvement in the probability of passing state standardized tests
  • Requests to use the system from other states and countries
  • Interest-Powered: Relevance of project to key priority areas like job development is clear

Pilot studies carried out since 2004 show positive results in improving learning. For example, a controlled study of 198 7th and 8th grade students using MathSpring just once a month throughout the full school year found a near significant trend (p=0.14) for 7th graders who outperformed comparison students on MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) state test, and 12% more students passed the test than the comparison group (Figure 1). Analyses of the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test scores, indicated a significant difference between MathSpring and the comparison group in student gains for one specific area of the mathematics curriculum, “patterns and algebra”. The difference in learning gain was even larger in 8th grade where the content in MathSpring has been configured to mostly contain topics related to Algebra. Yet, to precisely demonstrate MathSpring’s impact we need a larger scale study with a rigorous experimental design.

Thus, PALS, which is the use of MathSpring accompanied by professional development training and Teacher Dashboard, will be tested to see whether it can raise the quality of teachers’ performance and student learning.

MathSpring usage shifted students’ performance level.

Performance for a full class of seventh-grade students on a state standardized exam in 2012. Scores in the yellow/green polygon (right) were from students who used MathSpring, and scores in the blue polygon (left) were for those who did not. The distribution of exam scores shifted to the right for students who used the tutor, indicating that more students passed the exam and received a grade of “proficient” or “advanced.” Groups of students were matched in terms of the seventh-grade teacher and students.