WPI researchers are making math lessons jump off the page with “embodied” games that engage the mind—and muscles. Erin Ottmar and Ivon Arroyo seek to tap into the learning power of children’s natural inclination to move and play. Although the two have taken different approaches in their design of game-based classroom technology, the underlying principles, and the questions they seek to answer about learning and thinking, spring from a similar place.
WPI researchers in learning sciences are pioneering educational technologies that have the power to revolutionize the nation’s education system. Faculty and student researchers combine sophisticated computational methodology with strong theoretical frameworks in the learning and social sciences to investigate topics such as instructional technologies, learning with visualizations and simulations, learner characteristics, human-computer interaction, and machine learning. The end goal is to improve learning in real time to keep America competitive.
Nearly 3,000 students in Maine show significant gains through ASSISTments usage, says study.
Make It Easier to Learn Math
Professor Erin Ottmar is a cognitive psychologist who is interested in how students learn and how technology can be used to make teaching and learning more effective. Based on her studies, she develops, designs, and tests innovative classroom interventions, like Graspable Math, that respond to the way students actually think and how they naturally approach problem solving. Teachers and students use the information to improve many aspects of classroom learning.
How Big Data Transforms Learning
With Professor Ivon Arroyo as principal investigator and Professor Neil Heffernan as co-principal investigator, WPI’s Learning Sciences & Technologies program is diving into the cutting-edge field of big data. Working with a collaborative, multi-university team, they will examine how school data helps teachers develop specific plans and tools to offer more effective and efficient learning environments. Read more about WPI’s award from the National Science Foundation’s “Big Data Spokes” project.
ASSISTments Improves Learning
A four-year study showed that completing mathematics homework using ASSISTments, a free web-based intelligent tutoring system developed at WPI, improved learning by 75 percent over normal gains. The study, by SRI International, was conducted with 7th and 8th grade students in Maine. ASSISTments was developed by a team led by Neil Heffernan, director of WPI’s Learning Sciences & Technologies program. The program uses a variety of approaches to help students learn and helps teachers assess student progress. Watch this video or read more to learn how this innovative technology improved learning outcomes.