This CCLI Phase II project seeks to create and assess freely-available, intelligent agent-monitored, internet chat-based modules for integrating mathematics and engineering undergraduate education (Kumar & Rosé, 2011; Kumar et al., 2011; Ai et al., 2010; Kumar et al., 2010; Beuth et al., 2010). These modules help students relate mathematical concepts such as differentiation, integration and differential equations to their application in engineering. Further, monitored chat-based modules are developed as a unique, efficient outreach tool, allowing middle and high school students to make motivational links between mathematics and engineering, while learning what engineers do. These tasks are structured to be the basis for long-term transformational changes in how we teach engineering.
Two recent developments are exploited to realize this goal. They are: 1) At Carnegie Mellon, an earlier Phase I CCLI project has successfully demonstrated the integration of interactive dialogue technology with computer-based instruction in first year undergraduate and middle school outreach environments (Kumar et al., 2007; Rosé et al., 2006). Furthermore, it has been shown that the benefits of this technology can be enhanced if students work in on-line environments providing context-sensitive structuring to support team collaboration. 2) NSF-supported research at Wright State University and 19 other higher education institutions is demonstrating methods for successfully integrating mathematics and engineering education at the freshman level. The foundation of this effort is the development of a first year course combining mathematics and engineering applications in a way that motivates more extensive learning of both subjects in later courses.
The goal of this Phase II project is to use the agent-monitored dialogue technology from our Phase I project (Kumar & Rosé, 2009; Kumar & Rosé, 2011; Adamson & Rosé, 2012) as an alternative means for delivering many of the pedagogical goals of the Wright State approach, without offering a separate freshman-level course. As such, we see this as a low-barrier alternative delivery mechanism for universities not able or willing to commit to the larger curricular changes the Wright State approach suggests. This project involves a partnership between CMU Mechanical Engineering (ME), the CMU Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII), the CMU C-MITES Program, the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Wright State University (WSU). ME and HCII students and faculty are collaborating to develop undergraduate-level dialogue-based projects that emphasize the use of mathematical tools and concepts in engineering design and analysis. The CMU C-MITES Program works with the PIs to integrate tutorial-led software experiences into their outreach program, with dialogues developed to instruct and inspire middle school students. UCSB incorporates modules developed at CMU into their own engineering undergraduate program, and provide feedback on their transferability. WSU helps guide the project with their extensive knowledge of what does and does not work in integrating mathematics and engineering instruction.