Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop software tools that can help track learner engagement. This information can help educators accurately track their students’ performance and intervene when they become disengaged. This information is also vital to learning designers during the process of developing online educational materials.
The $277,044 grant from the Gates Foundation funds a project headed by WPI psychology professor, Ryan Baker, an internationally recognized expert in educational data mining and analytics. Baker will develop programs that will record student’s interaction with educational software in real time. It will look for behavior patterns that suggest disengagement, such as boredom, off-task behavior, systemic guessing and overuse of hints.
“Poorer performance on tests, poorer learning gains and outcomes, lack of motivation in learning, hostility and dissatisfaction toward school—these are all associated with disengagement," Baker said. "Off-task behavior is also associated with more serious behaviors later on, such as skipping class or dropping out of high school. On the other hand, engaged concentration not only leads to significantly better learning gains, but also is a major contributor to factors that predict long-term career success."
This software can be integrated with existing educational software, and ultimately can be scaled to measure thousands of students. Baker’s team will develop detectors for at least four online learning systems that will be selected by WPI in cooperation with the Gates Foundation.
Source: -- Worcester Polytechnic Institute