This article presents new algorithms for inferring users' activities in a class of flexible and open-ended educational software called exploratory learning environments (ELEs). Such settings provide a rich educational environment for students, but challenge teachers to keep track of students' progress and to assess their performance. This article presents techniques for recognizing students' activities in ELEs and visualizing these activities to students. It describes a new plan-recognition algorithm that takes into account repetition and interleaving of activities. This algorithm was evaluated empirically using two ELEs for teaching chemistry and statistics used by thousands of students in several countries.
In exploratory domains, agents' actions map onto logs of behavior that include switching between activities, extraneous actions, and mistakes. These aspects create a challenging plan recognition problem. This paper presents a new algorithm for inferring students' activities in exploratory domains that is evaluated empirically using a new type of flexible and open-ended educational software for science education. Such software has been shown to provide a rich educational environment for students, but challenge teachers to keep track of students' progress and to assess their performance. The algorithm decomposes students’ complete interaction histories to create hierarchies of interdependent tasks that describe their activities using the software. It matches students' actions to a predefined grammar in a way that reflects that students solve problems in a modular fashion but may still interleave between their activities. The algorithm was empirically evaluated on people’s interaction with two separate software systems for simulating a chemistry laboratory and for statistics education. It was separately compared to the state-of-the-art recognition algorithms for each of the software. The results show that the algorithm was able to correctly infer students' activities significantly more often than the state-of-the-art, and was able to generalize to both of the software systems with no intervention.
This paper presents a plan recognition algorithm for inferring student behavior using virtual science laboratories. The algorithm extends existing plan recognition technology and was integrated with an existing educational application for chemistry. Automatic recognition of students’ activities in virtual laboratories can provide important information to teachers as well as serve as the basis for intelligent tutoring. Student use of virtual laboratories presents several challenges: Students may repeat activities indefinitely, interleave between activities, and engage in exploratory behavior using trial-anderror. The plan recognition algorithm uses a recursive grammar that heuristically generates plans on the fly, taking into account chemical reactions and effects to determine students’ intended high-level actions. The algorithm was evaluated empirically on data obtained from college students using virtual laboratory software for teaching chemistry. Results show that the algorithm was able to (1) infer the plans used by students to construct their models; (2) recognize such key processes as titration and dilution when they occurred in students’ work; (3) identify partial solutions; (4) isolate sequences of actions that were part of a single error.
Plan recognition is one of the fundamental problems of AI, applicable to many domains, from user interfaces to cyber security. We focus on a class of algorithms that use plan libraries as input to the recognition process. Despite the prevalence of these approaches, they lack a standard representation, and have not been compared to each other on common testbed. This paper directly addresses this gap by providing a standard plan library representation and evaluation criteria to consider. Our representation is comprehensive enough to describe a variety of known plan recognition problems, yet it can be easily applied to existing algorithms, which can be evaluated using our defined criteria. We demonstrate this technique on two known algorithms, SBR and PHATT. We provide meaningful insights both about the differences and abilities of the algorithms. We show that SBR is superior to PHATT both in terms of computation time and space, but at the expense of functionality and compact representation. We also show that depth is the single feature of a plan library that increases the complexity of the recognition, regardless of the algorithm used.
The field of intelligent tutoring systems has successfully delivered techniques and applications to provide personalized coaching and feedback for problem solving in a variety of domains. The core of this personalized instruction is a student model; the ITS component in charge of assessing student traits and states relevant to tailor the tutorial interaction to specific student needs during problem solving. There are however, other educational activities that can help learners acquire the target skills and abilities at different stages of learning including, among others, exploring interactive simulations and playing educational games. This article describes research on creating student models that support personalization for these novel types of interactions, their unique challenges, and how AI and machine learning can help.