desJardins, Marie (University of Maryland Baltimore County) | Ciavolino, Amy (University of Maryland Baltimore County) | Deloatch, Robert (University of Maryland Baltimore County) | Feasley, Eliana (University of Maryland Baltimore County)
Intelligent tutoring systems (ITSs) provide students with a one-on-one tutor, allowing them to work at their own pace, and helping them to focus on their weaker areas. The RUR1–Python Learning Environment (RUR-PLE), a game-like virtual environment to help students learn to program, provides an interface for students to write their own Python code and visualize the code execution (Roberge 2005). RUR-PLE provides a fixed sequence of learning lessons for students to explore. We are extending RUR-PLE to develop the Playing to Program (PtP) ITS, which consists of three components: (1) a Bayesian student model that tracks student competence, (2) a diagnosis module that provides tailored feedback to students, and (3) a problem selection module that guides the student’s learning process. In this paper, we summarize RUR-PLE and the PtP design, and describe an ongoing user study to evaluate the predictive accuracy of our student modeling approach.
The current paradigm in student modeling has continued to show the power of its simplifying assumption of knowledge as a binary and monotonically increasing construct, the value of which directly causes the outcome of student answers to questions. Recent efforts have focused on optimizing the prediction accuracy of responses to questions using student models. Incorporating individual student parameter interactions has been an interpretable and principled approach which has improved the performance of this task, as demonstrated by its application in the 2010 KDD Cup challenge on Educational Data. Performance prediction, however, can have limited practical utility. The greatest utility of such student models can be their ability to model the tutor and the attributes of the tutor which are causing learning. Harnessing the same simplifying assumption of learning used in student modeling, we can turn this model on its head to effectively tease out the tutor attributes causing learning and begin to optimize the tutor model to benefit the student model.
Can we devise educational systems that provide individualized instruction tailored to the needs of the individual learners, as many good teachers do? Intelligent Tutoring Systems is the interdisciplinary field that investigates this question by integrating research in Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science and Education. Research in this field has successfully delivered techniques and systems that provide adaptive support for student problem solving in variety of domains. There are, however, other educational activities that can benefit from individualized computer-based support, such as studying examples, exploring interactive simulations and playing educational games. Providing individualized support for these activities rises unique challenges, because it requires that an ITS can model and adapt to student behaviors, skills and mental states often not as structured and well-defined as those involved in traditional problem solving. I will present a variety of projects that illustrate some of these challenges, our proposed solutions, and future opportunities.
Recent work on intelligent tutoring systems has used Bayesian networks to model students' acquisition of skills. In many cases, researchers have hand-coded the parameters of the networks, arguing that the conditional probabilities of models containing hidden variables are too difficult to learn from data. We present a machine learning approach that uses Expectation-Maximization to learn the parameters of a dynamic Bayesian network with hidden variables. We test our methodology on data that was simulated using a state-based model of skill acquisition. Results indicate that it is possible to learn the parameters of hidden variables given enough sequential data of training sessions on similar problems.
There are many ways these are combined to create'intelligence'. One example is using bayesian networks, which collect data to make predictions (i.e. about what you might like to buy in an online shop, considering your past purchases and the season). The more it makes these predictions, the more accurate the predictions get, as it gathers more data and teaches itself to be more accurate. In a classroom this could be used to predict student achievement. A bayesian network could ask, "is the student confused or interested", then ask "did the student answer the previous question correctly or not", and give a predicted score based on this information.