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A Personalized Computer Based Tutor for Vector Algebra

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2018 ASEE Mid-Atlantic Section Spring Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

April 6, 2018

Start Date

April 6, 2018

End Date

April 7, 2018

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Paper Authors


Vasudeva Rao Aravind Clarion University

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Dr. Vasudeva Rao Aravind is an associate professor of physics at Clarion University. Dr. Aravind has a Ph.D from The Pennsylvania State University in Materials Science and Engineering and Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Physics from Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, India. Dr. Aravind is a highly accomplished scholar and researcher in the fields of materials science, condensed matter physics, materials for energy applications, and educational technology. He has published his work in more than 15 prestigious journal articles and presented numerous invited talks and conference presentations throughout the world. His current research involves nanoscale structure property exploration through microscopy, and effective use of educational technology in the undergraduate physics classroom.

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Marcella Kay McConnell Clarion University of Pennsylvania

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Marcella Kay McConnell began her teaching career in 2001 where she taught mathematics from basic mathematics for seventh graders to Advance Placement Calculus at Keystone High School and Karns City High School in Pennsylvania. In 2010, she took a position at Clarion University in a split appointment between the Chemistry, Mathematics, & Physics and Education Departments. In the Education Department she designs, teaches, and supervises Secondary and Middle School Mathematics Methods courses. In the Chemistry, Mathematics & Physics Department, she teaches Mathematical Concepts in Grades K-8, Introductory Algebra Courses, Pre-Calculus and Research in Mathematics Teaching and Learning graduate course.
Marcella has presented at local, state, national and international conferences. Her greatest motivation is that students have the opportunity to experience and see the magnificence of mathematics. She wants her passion for mathematics to be obvious and infectious and to inspire students.

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Many of the world's challenges today need to solved through advances in one or more of the STEM disciplines. This calls for preparing our students to be tomorrow's leading engineers and scientists. While many students are fascinated by engineering and aspire to become future engineers, they are turned away by the seemingly 'difficult' academic coursework.For example, it is vital that students in a freshmen class understand how to analyze vectors, and split an arbitrary vector into components along different directions. From a student point of view, concepts in vectors can seem challenging, especially if they do not have strong knowledge background in geometry and trigonometry. We made a computer based personalized tutoring system using state of the art tools provided by Carnegie Mellon University's Cognitive Tutor Authoring Tools (CTAT). In this presentation, we describe steps that went into building this highly effective tutoring system that challenges the students with a problem, provides immediate feedback, and offers need based hints at different levels, leading the student to solve the problem correctly. The ideas described here will be useful to any engineering educator, as similar tutors can be made to personalize student learning in any concept.

Aravind, V. R., & McConnell, M. K. (2018, April), A Personalized Computer Based Tutor for Vector Algebra Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Mid-Atlantic Section Spring Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--29451

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