NSF Grant IIS-1320064
PI: Carolyn Penstein Rosť, Carnegie Mellon University,
firstname.lastname@example.org , http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~cprose
Co-PI: Marcela Borge, Penn State University, email@example.com , https://www.ed.psu.edu/directory/mbs15
With the recent press given to online education and increasing enrollment in online courses, the need for scaling up quality educational experiences online has never been so urgent. Current offerings provide excellent materials including video lectures, exercises, and some forms of discussion opportunities. The biggest limitations are related to the human side of effective educational experiences including personal contact with instructors and the cohort experience. In the past decade, special concern has centered on studentsí inability to communicate effectively, negotiate ideas, or engage in other aspects of collaborative problem-solving activity. At least a decade of research shows that students can nevertheless benefit from their interactions in learning groups when automated support is provided, especially interactive and context sensitive support.
This proposal brings together leading-edge researchers in the field of computer-supported collaborative learning with a track record for developing effective, dynamic support for collaborative learning addressing the whole learner, including cognitive, metacognitive, and social needs of learners. A key component of that work is the use of intelligent conversational agents to support productive learning processes in groups. In a nutshell the goal is to develop adaptive online learning communities that dynamically assign learners to short-term learning groups that meet their immediate learning and interaction needs, with dynamic support for productive group dynamics and in this way use the students themselves to provide much of the human side of instructional support that enables them to thrive in online learning environments, and instructor effort can be channeled efficiently where it is most needed.
The proposed CREATE project integrates an empirical foundation for supporting the cognitive, metacognitive, and social needs of online learners built up through a series of design studies, but which has never been modeled computationally, with a technological solution that has been validated through experimental studies and quantitative analyses of pre to post-test learning gains. The result will be a novel automated group learning support solution capable of meeting the needs of learning groups in a way that is more comprehensive than existing work in automated analysis of collaborative learning interactions. The proposed feasibility project investigates through experimental studies the causal effects of the behaviors of the supportive agents on student behavior, learning, and motivation. Studentsí real-world regulatory activity combined with collaborative-learning theory will be used to inform the algorithms developed to trigger supportive behaviors that provide guidance or advice, and to promote process awareness for students in the chat environment. Effectiveness of support will be evaluated in terms of pre to post-test learning gains, motivational measures, and process analyses. The PIs will evaluate the scalability and sustainability of the CREATE environment through deployment in multiple classrooms and assessment of perceived usefulness and usability by teachers and students.
Intellectual Merit: The proposed work adds new knowledge to the existing work on the use of metacognitive activities to support and improve students' collaborative problem solving and learning processes through a novel approach to computational modeling and automated triggering of support. It contributes new knowledge about the effects of intelligent conversational agent behaviors on the awareness and control of group intellectual activity.
Broader impacts: Developing a reliable and valid way to guide and assess collaborative intellectual activity in online environments would be a huge asset to instructors and students both for supporting the instruction as well as for enabling large-scale assessment. The PIís will work with The Center for Online Innovations in Learning, a partnership between the College of Education, World Campus (a highly respected online course provider), and the college of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State. This partnership will enable the PIs to deploy and test the embedded environment in multiple courses. The PIís will also document the study in a website and publish papers in well-known education and information-sciences journals and conferences.Publications