Award-winning homework help can boost the math skills of pupils throughout Sweden
Since 2009, the online tutoring service Mattecoach på nätet has helped more than 50,000 primary and upper-secondary school pupils to sharpen their mathematics skills. The idea had its genesis at KTH, and the unique platform was also developed here. Now we wish to take the next step towards making the service available to the entire country, and to develop a new AI support that will allow us to help more people.
Few similar ventures have been as successful as Mattecoach på nätet. So far, more than 50,000 pupils have received homework help from the service's coaches, all of whom are university students studying to become math teachers. In 2010, the originator of the service was lauded as one of Europe's most innovative teachers for starting Mattecoach på nätet.
Researchers at KTH have been following the evolution of Mattecoach på nätet since its inception, and have used it to develop better methods for online learning. The project is currently being run with math coaches from Linköping University. Aston University in Birmingham has also created an English-language version of Mattecoach på nätet, based on the Swedish model.
Reaching all of Sweden’s pupils
In the past, Mattecoach på nätet was funded by the municipalities that voluntarily joined the service. By agreement, pupils from each municipality were then given free access to the homework help service. Now we wish to greatly increase its dissemination, so that Mattecoach på nätet can reach all of Sweden's pupils. We are convinced that this can strengthen pupils' math skills and, by extension, help more people become eligible for higher education – especially pupils from socially disadvantaged areas.
Increased funding will also give us the opportunity to create a research environment based on the service, with the goal of advancing the development of teaching methods for online learning. Among other things, we wish to develop an AI support for the coaches that can increase the efficiency of each new conversation.
Provides deeper understanding
The platform has been developed to be simple and solution-oriented. When pupils log on to the service, they specify which course and type of problem they need help with. Then they are paired with an available coach. Together, the coach and the pupil share a digital whiteboard with a chat function that is specially developed to support learning. Here they can discuss the assignments with which the pupil needs help and achieve an in-depth understanding of the material.
An average conversation lasts for about 50 minutes, and since the conversation is conducted via text and the digital whiteboard, a coach can conduct about four or five different conversations in parallel. The coaches are all students studying to become math teachers. They have also completed a special university course on supervision via the internet, which covers both theory and practice.
Mathcoach på nätet was launched in 2009 as a collaboration between KTH, the City of Stockholm and Microsoft. The platform has been developed in cooperation with the company Midroc. Today, about ten municipalities are connected to the service and in 2018 approximately 6,600 homework help conversations were conducted. Mattecoach på nätet is available on all platforms, although the service works best on a slightly larger screen.
Stefan Stenbom, researcher and Head of E-Learning Education at KTH, who was awarded a prize as one of Europe's most innovative teachers in 2010 for starting Mattecoach på nätet.