Season 5: Episode 23 – ASSISTments – Neil and Cristina Heffernan [Podcast]

Today, we are speaking with Neil and Cristina Heffernan and their work on ASSISTments. ASSISTments is a powerful data tool in which teachers receive detailed immediate feedback on student work, helping them to focus their instruction and making the classroom experience more effective for students.

Neil Heffernan is Project Director and Co-Founder of ASSISTments, a free service to schools run by Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is a Professor of Computer Science and the Director of the Ph.D. program in Learning Sciences and Technologies.  He developed ASSISTments not only to help teachers be more effective in the classroom but also so that he could use the platform to conduct studies to improve the quality of education. He is very passionate about educational data mining.  

Joining Neil is the Project Co-Founder,  Cristina Heffernan. Cristina began her career in education as a math teacher in the Peace Corps. She went on to teach middle school math in the inner city and at an elite private school. She began working with teachers while a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh. As one of the co-founders of ASSISTments, Cristina has been instrumental in nurturing the system to be a tool for teachers to improve what they already do well in the classroom.

Here is what we talked about:

  1. Let’s start the conversation with a personal story about how you got connected to education data mining and the development of ASSISTments.
  2. Tell us a little more about this powerful tool – ASSISTments. What is it and how was it developed?
  3. On your website, you share some information and data about the efficacy of ASSISTments as measured through multiple research studies. Can you share some of that data with our listeners… the “why” teachers should investigate ASSISTments”?
  4.  Now that we know what it is, and why teachers should investigate it, talk to us about how some teachers (and students) are using this tool.
  5.  Before we invite you to share what is next for you, let’s hear your ideas about our lightning response questions:
    1. Who is one expert our listener’s should connect with to learn more about these data mining and feedback issues?
    2. If you were recommending one book to our listeners, what would it be?
    3. What online site/resource/person do you learn from regularly?
  6. What’s next for you, Neil and Cristina? What are you working on that you’d like to share?


Join in the conversation!

Each episode we leave you with a question to think about…with the idea of provoking reflection and  conversation. This episode’s question:

  1. How are teachers in your learning environment using immediate data and feedback to inform instruction?

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  1 comment for “Season 5: Episode 23 – ASSISTments – Neil and Cristina Heffernan [Podcast]

  1. Marie E Dolan
    January 23, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    This program, ASSISTMENTS, is such a gift to our schools. Thank you for making it possible for me to hear about it.

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