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Using An Expert System To Recognize And Remediate Student Errors

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.1102.1 - 6.1102.7

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Eric Bell

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

Session XX68

Using an Expert System to Recognize and Remediate Student Errors Eric Bell Triton College

Computer-based instruction systems commonly present information and then attempt to get some feedback from the student in order to engage the student in the process. Most of these feedback mechanisms involve multiple choice quizzes or entering a value. In the case of a multiple choice quiz, the student may be directed to some remediation. Having the student enter a value in response to a specific request requires more thought and effort on the student’s part, but opens the door to a seemingly infinite number of wrong answers. Can these two systems be reconciled, and is there a better way to engage the student?

An expert system developed at the school can recognize a correct response as well as an incorrect response. A system for allowing the student to enter calculation in a symbolic form has also been developed to facilitate more abstract input. If an error has been made by the student, the system presents remediation topics based on the type of error. Thus specific student error types can be addressed saving time and frustration with the instruction process. This paper presents a description of the expert system and how it is implemented and integrated into an Engineering Statics course.


The proliferation of the personal / desk-top computer has caused many in education to examine ways to use the machines to enhance education. Unfortunately there are at least two drawbacks associated with computer use as an education enhancement tool.

One is the use of computers as a remediation tool. If the student is already having difficulties, then remedial work tends to make them even more remedial because they don’t have time to put into new material. Ample evidence exists to demonstrate that students who are deficient in math related skills are at a significant disadvantage compared other students. Thus, a student entering the College without at pre-calculus background may never catch up.

Efforts to use computer-aided instruction as a study aide have been laudable. Certainly the best intentioned minds have tackled the problem, but evidence indicates only marginal progress. The primary problem seems to be that students who are having difficulties with a topic easily become frustrated as a result of misconceptions of process and erroneous facts. Misconceptions of process are usually incomplete or incorrect steps related to the problem solving process.

While, as educators, we are very familiar with the problem process for different problems, it is only because we have solved several thousand problems of a particular type. As a note, it is not proposed that we turn students into problem solving robots, but after doing enough problems, we

Bell, E. (2001, June), Using An Expert System To Recognize And Remediate Student Errors Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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