HCII Software Uses AI To Get Students To Do More Math

Kayla PapakieThursday, August 11, 2022

Software designed by the HCII's LearnLab to improve math learning outcomes for marginalized K-12 students received a top award from the International E-Learning Association.

Software designed by members of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute's (HCII) LearnLab to improve math learning outcomes for marginalized K-12 students received a top award from the International E-Learning Association (IELA).

The software uses artificial intelligence to improve tutor efficiency, while simultaneously syncing with students' existing math software and tracking their performance to deliver individualized lessons and resources. Born out of a project called Personalized Learning Squared (PLUS), the software won the IELA's gold star in the Performance Support Experience category.

PLUS is a collaboration between LearnLab and the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Urban Education (CUE). The CUE team delivers a mentoring program to local school districts called Ready to Learn, in which they test the effectiveness of the software developed by more than a dozen LearnLab members, including a product manager, software developers, content and UX designers, faculty, and postdoctoral fellows. PLUS aims to double the rate of math learning by increasing the number of hours students spend practicing math, guided by a trained educator who acts as both a tutor and mentor.

"If you get students to do more math, they learn more math," said Shivang Gupta, who is the PLUS product lead and a 2019 alumnus of the HCII's Master of Education Technology and Applied Learning Science program.

PLUS began as a vision to connect Pittsburgh-based universities, school districts and community organizations. More than 5,700 students and nearly 300 mentors in 15 Pennsylvania institutions have used the software, which was funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The PLUS team recently published results showing that middle school students in CUE's Ready to Learn program achieved nearly double the learning outcomes than similar students who did not use the program.

Gupta says the award from the IELA is timely, as they prepare this month for a wider rollout of the software. Over the next four years, the team's goal is to double the rate of math learning for 10,000 marginalized or low-income students across the country.

"This award is coming at a time when we're trying to go from a greater Pittsburgh project to a national and even international project. IELA gives us that international recognition. It helps us get the word out," Gupta said.

The International E-Learning Awards are presented each year to recognize the best work in online learning in academic and business settings.

For More Information

Aaron Aupperlee | 412-268-9068 | aaupperlee@cmu.edu