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Using Chatbots as Smart Teaching Assistants for First-Year Engineering Students

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2020 First-Year Engineering Experience


East Lansing, Michigan

Publication Date

July 26, 2020

Start Date

July 26, 2020

End Date

July 28, 2020

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Paper Authors


Sherif Abdelhamid Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Dr. Sherif E. Abdelhamid served as an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the College of Computing and Information Technology (CCIT). Before joining CCIT in 2018, he was an Infrastructure Software Engineer at the Center for Open Science, Virginia, USA.

He obtained his Ph.D. and MSc in Computer Science from Virginia Tech and his current research work lies at the intersection of computation and education. In particular, he is interested in building and evaluating software systems that enrich the students’ learning environment and promote their success.

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Andrew Katz Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Andrew Katz is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech.

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As the artificial intelligence (AI) field advances, more research areas within AI are emerging including machine learning, neural networks, fuzzy systems, and much more. In the last decade, chatbot technology has emerged as a new area of AI. Chatbot use-cases are surfacing across various sectors including banking, customer services, medicine, and e-commerce. Recently, chatbots have begun being used in education, and the potential advantages are notable. In this paper, we are reviewing related literature and presenting a mobile application system, named Alpha, that utilizes chatbots as smart teaching assistants. The system consists of an artificially intelligent (smart) chatbot, cloud-based database, speech recognition, and web services. We conducted a student survey and a usability assessment of the implemented system. We have integrated our system into a first-year engineering course, and more courses will be added in the future. The system aims to support students' learning processes and engagement in addition to providing real-time 24/7 assistance to students.

Abdelhamid, S., & Katz, A. (2020, July), Using Chatbots as Smart Teaching Assistants for First-Year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2020 First-Year Engineering Experience, East Lansing, Michigan. 10.18260/1-2--35782

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