AI for Tackling STEM Education Challenges

Artificial intelligence (AI), an emerging technology, finds increasing use in STEM education and STEM education research (e.g., Zhai et al., 2020b; Ouyang et al., 2022; Linn et al., 2023). AI, defined as a technology to mimic human cognitive behaviors, holds great potential to address some of the most challenging problems in STEM education (Neumann and Waight, 2020; Zhai, 2021). Amongst these is the challenge of supporting all students to meet the vision for science learning in the 21st century laid out, for example in the U.S. Framework for K-12 Science Education (National Research Council, 2012), Germany (Kulgemeyer and Schecker, 2014), Finland (Finnish National Board of Education, 2016), and the PISA framework (OECD, 2017). These policy documents call for students to develop proficiency in using ideas so that learners can use their knowledge to solve challenging problems and make sense of complex phenomena. For instance, the Framework calls for students to develop the ability to integrate their knowledge of the disciplinary core ideas (DCIs) and crosscutting concepts across different science disciplines (CCCs) with the skills to engage in major scientific and engineering practices (SEPs) to explain everyday scientific phenomena and solve real-life problems. The Framework also describes pathways, called learning progressions, of how students are expected to progress in developing the competence envisioned. However, to best support students in developing such competence, assessments that allow students to use knowledge to solve challenging problems and make sense of phenomena are needed. These assessments need to be designed and tested to validly locate students on the learning progression and hence provide feedback to students and teachers about meaningful next steps in their learning. Yet, such tasks are time-consuming to score and challenging to provide students with appropriate feedback to develop their knowledge to the next level.

Zhai, X., Neumann, K., & Krajcik, J. (2023). AI for tackling STEM education challenges. Frontiers in Education, 8. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2023.1183030