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Use of Software Agent-Monitored Tutorials to Guide Student Learning in Computer-Aided Design, Analysis and Mathematics Projects

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1597.1 - 22.1597.15



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Paper Authors


Jack L. Beuth Carnegie Mellon University

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Jack Beuth received his Ph.D. in Engineering Sciences from Harvard in 1992. He has been on the faculty of the Carnegie Mellon University Department of Mechanical Engineering since 1992. Dr. Beuth’s research is in the areas of solid mechanics and manufacturing. He is currently working on projects in four areas: The Mechanics of Laser- and Electron Beam-Based Manufacturing Processes, Interfacial Toughness Testing of Thermal Barrier Coatings, Development of an In-situ On-chip Tensile Testing Platform, and the Modeling of Fracture-Resistant Anti-Corrosion Coatings for Steels. Dr. Beuth’s initiatives in education have included the integration of computer-aided engineering projects throughout the CMU ME undergraduate curriculum. His latest research is in collaboration with the CMU Human-Computer Interaction Institute, developing software agent-monitored collaborative projects for undergraduate courses. Dr. Beuth was a recipient of the 1998 Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award. In 2000, he was awarded George Tallman and Florence Barrett Ladd Development Professorship in Mechanical Engineering. In 2005 Dr. Beuth was co-recipient of the ASME Curriculum Innovation Award. In 2009 Dr. Beuth received the Benjamin Richard Teare Teaching Award from the Carnegie Mellon Engineering College.

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Rohit Kumar Carnegie Mellon University

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Rohit Kumar is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his Masters in Language Technologies at Carnegie Mellon University in 2007 and Bachelor in Engineering from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh in 2003. Rohit was a Research Scientist at Language Technologies Research Center, IIIT Hyderabad from 2003 to 2005. His research interests include Conversational Agents and their applications to variety of complex interactive situations.

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Carolyn Penstein Rose Carnegie Mellon University

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Carolyn Rose is an Assistant Professor with a joint appointment between the Language Technologies Institute and the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. She serves as an Executive Committee member of the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, Treasurer of the International Society of the Learning Sciences, and editorial board member of the International Journal of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, the Journal of Educational Data Mining, and the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. Her research is in the area of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning and Automated Discourse Analysis.

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Use of Software Agent-Monitored Tutorials to Guide Student Learning in Computer-Aided Design, Analysis and Mathematics ProjectsIn this research, internet chat-based tutorials are being developed for integrating a variety ofskills into mechanical engineering undergraduate and middle school outreach programs. At theundergraduate level, these tutorials reinforce fundamental concepts through dynamic dialoguesbetween tutorial agents and student user groups. In outreach efforts, participants are led toconsider how their activities relate to the broad mechanical engineering profession.In undergraduate projects, fundamental technical skills and intuition in interpreting results areemphasized. An important secondary goal is to train undergraduate students to effectivelycommunicate technically with remote team members. A recent emphasis is agent use in projectsemphasizing links between mathematics fundamentals and applied engineering tasks, with thegoal of increasing students’ conceptual links between math and engineering.In a typical assignment, students are asked to perform a design or modeling task. Students workin teams, but team members are distributed within a room or between remote sites, linked by agraphical and text interface. As students collaborate electronically, an intelligent agent monitorstheir text interactions and interjects questions or comments in response to the use of key phrasesor due to other triggers. This platform is being used to help automate some collaborativelearning experiences and to study how students can effectively interact with each other and withthe software agents. It is also being used to evaluate the relative effectiveness of agentinteractions compared to personal interactions with a teaching assistant. This includesincorporating varying amounts of social qualities into the agent’s interactions with students.Evaluations of the effectiveness of student learning are correlated with the amount of socialqualities in the agents’ interactions with students.In addition to offering new methods for engaging students in project tasks, this approach is seenas a potential pathway toward increasing student exposure to collaborative project work,including distance learning experiences. Used properly, agent-guided interactions can automateand greatly reduce the overhead associated with the offering of collaborative projects in courses.

Beuth, J. L., & Kumar, R., & Rose, C. P. (2011, June), Use of Software Agent-Monitored Tutorials to Guide Student Learning in Computer-Aided Design, Analysis and Mathematics Projects Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--19004

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