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Assessing High School Girls' Preconceptions About Artificial Intelligence To Improve Learning

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.267.1 - 12.267.15



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Paper Authors

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Glenn Ellis Smith College

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Jake Lauer Smith College

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Katie Silva Smith College

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Netty Nina Smith College

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Assessing Preconceptions about Artificial Intelligence to Improve Learning

I. Introduction Students come to the classroom with preconceptions about how the world works. If their initial understanding is not engaged, they may fail to grasp the new concepts and information that are taught, or they may learn them for purposes of a test but revert to their preconceptions outside the classroom. --The National Research Council (one of 3 critical findings) 1

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used increasingly in the K-12 classroom as a means to engage students in learning about engineering and technology. This increase is due to a variety of reasons including: the changing importance of AI in our daily lives; a greater emphasis on science, technology and engineering in state educational frameworks; recognition of AI as a useful pedagogical tool for active learning; and the development of robotics kits that make AI accessible to younger learners. For example, a variety of in-school and after-school curricula use LEGO robotics kits to promote hands-on learning and exploration of programming, engineering design, principles in physical science and other content areas.2,3,4 Another example is the FIRST Robotics Competition5. In this competition over 30,000 high school students participate in an intensive robotic design experience that receives national media attention. In addition to robotics, educators are also developing curricula that allow students to learn about other aspects of AI and explore some of the important issues facing the field. In one example, topics in AI are investigated using philosophy of the mind as a conceptual framework to help students develop meaningful connections among AI, philosophy, science, mathematics and other fields.6,7 All of these varying approaches and others not mentioned share the common thread that a learner’s prior knowledge will have a profound effect on the learning that takes place.

Despite the increasing importance of AI in pre-college education, little is known about the prior knowledge and preconceptions that students bring to the classroom. Yet it is well understood from numerous studies that prior knowledge strongly influences the integration of new information.1,8,9 The National Research Council (NRC) writes:

A logical extension of the view that new knowledge must be constructed from existing knowledge is that teachers need to pay attention to the incomplete understandings, the false beliefs, and the naïve renditions of concepts that learners bring with them to a given subject. Teachers then need to build on these ideas in ways that help each student achieve a more mature understanding. If students’ initial ideas and beliefs are ignored, the understandings that they develop can be very different from what the teacher intends.1

What do students think AI is? Do they see it as being anything more than robotics? How do they see robots and humans as being different? Do they view AI as beneficial or harmful to

Ellis, G., & Lauer, J., & Silva, K., & Nina, N. (2007, June), Assessing High School Girls' Preconceptions About Artificial Intelligence To Improve Learning Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2044

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