Principal Investigator: Michael Lee
Organization: New Jersey Institute of Technology
This research aims to create innovative software to broaden access to free online programming education. As computing continues to be increasingly important in the 21st century, more people are turning to discretionary online resources to learn related skills such as computer programming. These resources are great tools to teach the public in large numbers, which is important for economic development and innovation. However, many of these resources struggle to keep their users engaged, which is a critical component for learning. Building interactive systems that can detect users’ disengagement and adapt to their needs will become increasingly important in teaching the next generation of learners. Access to these types of free, customized learning experiences will benefit everyone, but especially those in underrepresented groups and/or those living in rural or low income areas, who might not have quality computing education resources available to them otherwise.
This project builds on Gidget, an online educational learning tool designed to teach novices introductory computer programming concepts through debugging puzzles. This project aims to integrate predictors into the tool that can detect struggling and disengaged learners, so that appropriate action(s) can be taken to help them. The curriculum generator component will produce and deliver customized levels to provide struggling learners more practice with concepts they are having difficulty with. The reengage component will produce and display just in time feedback to help reengage disengaged learners. This research will shed new insights into the effectiveness of these techniques on learners’ engagement (operationalized as total time spent using the tool and total number of concepts completed) and learning outcomes (determined by a pre-post test of knowledge) in an online educational programming tool, and inform the design of other interactive educational tools. This work contributes to the fields of computing education, interactive educational tools, human-computer interaction, intelligent tutoring systems, and learning science.