Advisor: Anna Rafferty
Technology is becoming increasingly ubiquitous in schools. Some schools, such as Northfield Middle School, provide iPads or laptops to students, enabling learning at a self-guided pace and providing opportunities for immediate feedback and interactive visualizations that can promote deeper learning. However, while there is a proliferation of educational apps, many applications have limited grounding in pedagogical research and provide limited information to teachers about what their students are doing and in what ways they are struggling.
This project provides an interdisciplinary opportunity for a project connected with math education comps. Students in the math education comps will be researching the Singapore Mathematics curriculum for algebra and developing and testing a curriculum that combines this content with particular approaches of teaching math through modeling. This project will be conducted with the assistance of a Northfield middle school teacher who is committed to using the curriculum in his classroom.
While the math comps will be focusing primarily on the pedagogical design, the computer science side of this comps project will focus on building an iPad application to deliver the curriculum and exploring how to make this interface as usable as possible for both students and for the teacher. The Singapore Mathematics approach relies heavily on helping students to build visual representations and models as part of their work. You'll determine how to implement these problems on an iPad in a way that is understandable and helpful for students. As time permits, you may also explore possibilities for deploying learner analytics to customize learners' experiences based on their behaviors in the app.
A second but equally important part of the project is providing data and analytics to the teacher. When students are working with educational technology in the classroom, it can be more difficult for teachers to monitor the class's progress and to recognize what ways students are struggling. One response to this has been the creation of dashboards that provide teachers with analytics related how students are progressing through the technology. Existing research has begun to explore what types of dashboard features are most effective for helping teachers to understand and address student difficulties. To make the new curriculum as useful as possible for teachers, you'll design a dashboard that can help the teacher monitor the class's behavior.
As described above, you'll develop an iPad app for students to practice their algebra skills and for teachers to understand what their students are learning. The goals of the student portion of the app are as follows:
You'll simultaneously be working on the teacher-direction portion of the app, where your goals are to:
For both parts of the project, understanding your user's goals will be a vital part of the project, and you'll be expected to conduct user testing at all stages of the project, refining based on the users' experiences. Because this project is interdisciplinary, with both computer science and math comps students working on different aspects of the project, both comps teams will need to communicate with one another about their progress, with occasional meetings to coordinate goals.
At a minimum, you will develop a high-fidelity prototype of an app or website that demonstrates an understanding of your target audience and their goals. Once this goal is accomplished, and as time permits, you will add functionality to the app, with the ultimate goal of a fully-functional, fully-integrated, releasable app.
Software design is the main prerequisite for this project. It's helpful, but not necessary, if you've taken Human-Centered Computing, Human-Computer Interaction or Mobile Application Development, or have some education, psychology, or cognitive science background.
Below are a few examples of recent papers on using educational technologies and learning analytics in the classroom. Note that these references are intended to provide a minimal start for your literature search - they are certainly not the only nor necessarily the best sources for ideas. You will be expected to seek out and read additional papers to inform the design of your system! We'll also be reading some more general human computer interaction papers to inform our design and testing of the interfaces.