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Dissemination

Carnegie Mellon University

How would you assess the transferability of the re-design approach you employed to new subject areas or disciplines?

The approach we have taken to address the pedagogical problem of giving students hands-on problem solving practice (where students really are in charge of their problem-solving decisions) is to develop an automated system that can let students work on their own—within a structured and scaffolded environment, where missteps can be corrected before the student gets too confused. This approach in our case involved building and deploying a cognitive tutor for statistics (StatTutor), an approach that has already been shown to work well in other subject areas such as algebra and programming. Within Statistics, we are already trying to take advantage of our efforts to use StatTutor in other related courses. This transfer we hope to establish by spring 2002 by expanding StatTutor so that it can cover the statistical tools used in more advanced courses.

Currently, Carnegie Mellon faculty from the Biology Department and Human-Computer Interaction Institute are exploring taking a similar approach to the teaching of parts of genetics courses. Genetics is another subject area that lends itself to intelligent tutor techniques.

December 2001 Update: Work on the genetics tutor has now begun. The Biology Department is funding the early work and we are seeking funding for entire project. We suspect being able to point to the impact of the StatTutor may help in that process.

How are you disseminating the re-design among your colleagues?

During spring 2001, two of the team members were invited to give several talks at nearby Statistics Departments (University of Pittsburgh and Ohio State University) to tell about our project. The response was extremely positive. Indeed, OSU has shown interest in using StatTutor in some way in their course developments.

Information about the efforts in this project was one of the reasons that the Biology Department asked the Office of Technology for Education to help them explore the possibility of developing intelligent tutors for genetics.

December 2001 Update: On-campus dissemination activities included a presentation by Oded Meyer about the project to the Statistics Departments' "Teaching Tea" and a "Perspectives" seminar.

The principle investigators are submitting a proposal for a presentation on the project to the American Statistical Associations' Joint Statistics Seminar to be held in New York City in summer 2002.

Summaries of the results have been submitted as a presentation proposal ("Implementing a Computerized Tutor in a Statistical Reasoning Course: Getting the Big Picture") to the International Conference on the Teaching of Statistics (ICOTS) to be held in the summer of 2002. Oded Meyer and Marsha Lovett, both principle investigators on the StatTutor project, authored this proposal.

Discussions are underway with Marsha Lovett and Bill Harkness at Penn State University about our respective projects.

Lovett, Greenhouse, Meyer and other members of the statistics department are participating in a large-scale proposal to the NSF to create a Web site to support the teaching of statistics led by Buz Hunt at the University of Washington. The StatTutor project has been an aspect of those efforts.

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