This project develops mixed-initiative dialog and speech recognition technologies to encourage students to speak and reason about science concepts. It is part of a larger collaboration to help fourth and fifth grade students who are not achieving their potential in high quality inquiry-based programs. The larger collaboration develops and evaluates a computer program, MyST, to interactively engage students in spoken tutorial dialogs of four science investigations to reinforce and extend their understanding of science concepts.
Improving Science Learning in Inquiry-based Programs (Collaborative Research: Van Vuuren)
Collaborative Research: Improving Science Learning in Inquiry-Based Programs improves science learning by students who are not achieving their potential in high quality inquiry-based programs. While programs like FOSS, STC and Insights are effective in improving science achievement within and across school districts, many children enrolled in these programs, especially underrepresented minorities and English language learners, fail to demonstrate proficiency on standardized tests of science achievement. This project aims to achieve its goal by developing a computer program, My Science Tutor, which students will use immediately following classroom science investigations to reinforce and extend concepts embedded in the investigations. The program uses a lifelike animated character to engage students in guided learning activities and tutorial dialogs that stimulate scientific reasoning. Tutorial dialogs are based on a proven technique, Questioning the Author, which challenges students to learn to integrate new concepts with prior knowledge to construct enriched mental models that can be used to explain and predict scientific phenomena. To evaluate the intervention, learning gains are compared on standardized tests of science achievement by fourth and fifth grade students in four areas of science by students randomly assigned to three groups: the computer treatment, human tutoring or continued classroom instruction. Formative assessments analyze student and teacher experiences, and learning of concepts and scientific reasoning through analysis of entries in students' science notebooks.