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Arizona State University (LAEP Inventory)

Cloud created by:

Rebecca Ferguson
11 February 2016


Arizona State University (ASU) partnered with private company Knewton Enterprises in 2011 to make use of the Knewton Math Readiness program for its online and blended mathematics modules. The program created personalised learning paths for over 5,000 students registered on remedial mathematics modules. Knewton’s website highlights that the system, ‘continually assesses their mathematical proficiency and adapts accordingly.’ After adopting the system, Knewton states that ASU retention in the remedial mathematics programme increased from 64% to 75%.


As of 2015, ASU has announced a partnership with Cengage Learning and Knewton Enterprises to create ‘Active Adaptive’ modules. These modules will use analytics similar to the Knewton Math Readiness programme, which adapts students’ learning paths through the module according to their demonstrated proficiency. In combination, Cengage Learning will provide study tools to enhance resources such as note taking and collaboration with classmates. These co-created modules were planned for launch in autumn 2015 and were developed for entry-level general education modules.


Inventory type:




Context of Practice




national: USA


This institutional practice relies on adaptive content in remedial and entry-level modules, based on students’ demonstrated proficiency.

Practical Matters

Tools used:

Knewton Enterprises – adaptive learning paths software,

Cengage Learning – online study tools

Design and implementation:

Relatively little information about the programme is provided on the Arizona State University website. However, informal press accounts highlight that the system was put into place in 2011 for remedial mathematics courses. Further partnerships with Knewton and Cengage Learning were announced in 2015 to develop more adaptive modules university wide. Informal accounts highlight some push back by university staff, due to the lack of pilot testing or consultation with staff prior to partnerships.

Maturity and Evidence of Utility

Knewton-powered classrooms were rolled out to students without pilot testing. The Knewton website claims an increase in retention from 64% to 75%, however the student cohorts examined were of varying size -- 2,419 students without Knewton program and 1,565 with the program – and cohorts were studied at ASU at different time points. Thus, a more robust randomised control trial would be useful to clarify results. An informal account on Inside Higher Ed also highlights wide variation in retention rates between individual module sections. Thus, more quantitative and qualitative research is suggested to better understand the maturity and evidence of utility for this programme.

Further Information

Overview of Knewton tool:

Informal account:

Case study:

Cengage press release:

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