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Collaborative Research: Expansion, Optimization, and Dissemination of Step-Based Tutoring Software for Linear Circuit Analysis: 1821628

Principal Investigator: Brian Skromme
CoPrincipal Investigator(s): Srividya Bansal, Petru Andrei, Michel Reece, Willie Thompson, Miguel Velez-Reyes
Organization: Arizona State University

In this project, Arizona State University, in collaboration with Morgan State University, Florida A&M University, and the University of Texas at El Paso, will evaluate the impact of a virtual tutoring system for circuit analysis. The virtual tutor focuses on introductory linear circuit analysis, a key gateway class required of students in all engineering disciplines. Personalized to handle each student’s needs, the tutoring system uses a step-based approach in which the computer accepts each step of a student’s work and automatically evaluates the work, providing detailed feedback. This immediate feedback helps to correct student errors early in the learning process.

This project aims to augment, optimize, disseminate, and evaluate the impact of a virtual tutoring system (Circuit Tutor) for linear circuit analysis. Compared to similar systems, the Circuit Tutor uniquely accepts and checks every step of a student’s work to provide immediate, detailed feedback, thus facilitating student learning and minimizing student frustration. Offered in “open-source” mode, the tutoring system will be freely available to students all over the world. Methods of optimizing the pedagogical effectiveness of the system will be systematically explored by studying transcripts of student work and by real-time observations of students at work with Circuit Tutor. Instructors will be provided with an online dashboard to inform them about the progress of individual students and common learning difficulties. Introduction of “desirable learning difficulties” that are believed to greatly enhance long-term retention will be explored. Integration of theoretical computer-based instruction with hands-on learning will also be studied. The software will be rigorously evaluated and results widely disseminated to multiple institutions for use in their engineering courses.

This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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