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Deploying Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) in the Engineering Classroom

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

New Engineering Educators 4: Tips and Tools

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

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Randy Hugh Brooks Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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After 23 years in Telecom building the internet and email, I observed that the front line personnel that I was hiring didn’t have what I considered to be skills that they should be bringing to the table. I began investigating why, and that led me to high school. Alas, I began my journey in Education in 2010 inhabiting the classrooms of Lovejoy High School, where my two daughters attended.

I redubbed my PreCalculus course as Problem-Solving with Brooks and was also afforded the opportunity to lead a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Principles of Engineering (PoE) course which is a project-based learning survey of the engineering discipline.

Since the Summer of 2015 I have been privileged to work with the Texas A and M Sketch Recognition Lab (TAMU SRL) to evaluate two online tutorial tools (Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS)) currently under development, Mechanix and Sketchtivity, that provide immediate constructive feedback to the students and student-level metrics to the instructors. I presented on this work at the state and national PLTW Conventions and at CPTTE in 2016.

I also spent 5 semesters beginning the Fall of 2015 in online courses learning how to construct and deliver online courses. This resulted in a MSEd from Purdue University in Learning Design and Technology (LDT).

This widely varied background prepared me well for my next big adventure. Beginning in August 2018, I accepted a role as the Texas A and M Professor of Practice for the Texas A and M Engineering Academy at Blinn College in Brenham. TAMU Engineering Academies are an innovative approach to providing the planet with more Aggie Engineers.

I am a technology learner and have been a regular presenter at the state TCEA (Texas Computer Educator Association) convention and PLTW state convention each year.

My career began with a B.S. in Telecom Engineering from Texas A and M. Upon graduation, my learning continued at MCI, Vartec, and Charter.

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More than a half-decade of evolution and honing of two web-based Intelligent Tutoring System (ITS) tools, Mechanix and Sketchtivity, has yielded a product for the classroom that provides personalized and immediate feedback to each student while encouraging them to explore new tasks.

These are tools of the future, today, with instructor-tailoring capabilities and availability at any time for students to continue their practice while receiving instructor-influenced visual and textual constructive feedback regarding their actions.

Sketchtivity is enhancing drawing skills by analyzing performance on digital sketches of common shapes and progressing through to 3D constructs. Enhancing the offering is an award-winning gaming aspect that emphasizes the key measurable elements of a well-sketched line: Speed, Accuracy, and Precision.

Mechanix provides significant support for one of the more time-intensive homework/grading courses in engineering, statics. Instructors build custom practices (truss and free-body analysis), or use existing standard configurations, and students may attempt the problems anytime and anywhere. The students receive immediate constructive feedback and instructors may gather metrics regarding student/class performance. The student metrics may then be used by the instructor to tailor future lesson elements based on the results of the practice work in Mechanix.

This study explores the deployment of both products in an engineering freshman-level applied mechanics lab course. The Mechanix deployment will be contrasted with a previous deployment in a Project Lead The Way (PLTW) high school classroom. The Sketchtivity deployment will focus on self-efficacy of engineering students in their sketching capabilities in support of enhancing their ability to share their thoughts and ideas in a non-digital format.

Brooks, R. H. (2020, June), Deploying Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) in the Engineering Classroom Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34382

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