One of the biggest revolutions in education in the last few years seems to be the use of artificial intelligence to offer adaptive individualized learning environments as done by companies like squirrel, knewton or aleks.

Are the PISA data detailed enough to measure effects by such AI based approaches in mathematics? If so, was this point investigated and what are the results?

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ AI is hype. I know this to be true because my computer told me. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 5:19
  • $\begingroup$ :-) At least it is advertised as a revolution. I am indeed not a fan of AI based education, but I don't have much objective arguments against it. $\endgroup$
    – student
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 13:52
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I'll echo that a lot of products adopt the "AI" label for marketing and are hyped. AI is a broad descriptor, so I'm not sure that even if data were available that any strong conclusions could be made. I think that some machine learning tools could be useful for K-12 mathematics, particularly for determining/analyzing the connectedness of standards. $\endgroup$
    – Carser
    Commented Dec 14, 2020 at 16:01
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Anything remotely close to AI are automatic driving or flying systems. Everything else is just pattern analysis. "Adaptive individualized learning" in the form "if you can do this, do that" have existed for at least half a century. Nothing new so far. You may want to watch 1980s TV shows hyping computerized education. $\endgroup$
    – Rusty Core
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Ivana: What software does the school of your kids use? What do you and your kids think about it? $\endgroup$
    – student
    Commented Feb 14, 2021 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


In an attempt to answer your question:

Are the PISA data detailed enough to measure effects by such AI based approaches in mathematics?

I found three things that point to the answer being no.

  1. I dug through the 2018 PISA School Questionnaire, which is administered to school principals, and found no question on AI that would allow the data to be parsed in this way. I only searched this questionnaire, so it's possible the question comes up elsewhere, but I would be surprised if it was. (For reference, the full list of master questionnaires from 2018 can be found here.)

  2. A draft of the 2021 PISA framework has lots of mentions of Computer-Based Assessments of Mathematics (CBAM) and computer simulations, but no reference to Artificial Intelligence (AI) that I can find. The draft I found was from November 2018 though, so its entirely possible that something has been added to address this, but (again) I would be surprised if it was.

  3. My third point is anecdotal, but perhaps valuable, and it echoes the early comments to the original post. In the not so recent past (but still less than 10 years ago) I was teaching a college remedial mathematics course at an institution in the New York City area that was using an "Artificial Intelligence"-esque system for students to complete modules of work. The company that we used sought feedback on the system and provided cash incentives for educators who found mistakes in their software (either mistakes, typos, or sequencing), which gave me the feeling that these billed "Artificial Intelligence" learning environments are in actuality just logic trees that software engineers and mathematics educators have built out by brute force. Now, it has been some time since I have taught with this software, but I have seen nothing in the interim to suggest that the AI software you're referring to is anything but "hype".

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks. About your anecdotal point: Do you remember what software your institution used at that time? Do you know if it is used today? Or did they stop using this system or do they use a successor system? $\endgroup$
    – student
    Commented Feb 14, 2021 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ It was called Hawkes Learning, and I don't know if they still use it, or some other program. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 16, 2021 at 18:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.