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Work-­‐in-­‐Progress: Design of an Online Learning Coach

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Computers in Education (CoED) Engineering Poster Session

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1398.1 - 23.1398.15

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Paper Authors


Fred W DePiero California Polytechnic State University

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Dr. Fred DePiero received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University in 1985 and 1987. He then worked as a Development Associate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory until 1993. While there he was involved in a variety of real-time image processing projects and several laser-based ranging systems. Dr. DePiero began working on his Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee while still at ORNL, and completed it in May 1996. His research interests include multidisciplinary applications of graph matching and range data sensing, registration and surface modeling. Fred joined the faculty at CalPoly in September of 1996. Fred is presently the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs in the College of Engineering.

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Work-­‐in-­‐Progress:  ‘Like’  that  Lecture    XYZ  is  a  new  computer-­‐based  learning  tool  primarily  designed  to  support  engineering  science  courses.  XYZ  is  intended  to  supplement  instruction  in  courses  having  large  enrollments,  and  for  students  who  may  have  varied  backgrounds  and  aptitudes.  Because  of  the  diversity  of  learners  in  these  courses,  our  approach  is  to  present  material  in  a  variety  of  styles  (e.g.  including  both  systematic  and  intuitive,  conceptual  and  applied…).  This  wide  variety  of  presentation  styles  can  help  students,  in  general.  But  a  large  class  lecture  doesn’t  provide  the  opportunities  to  adjust  delivery  in  a  learner-­‐centered  fashion  compared  to  a  small  class  setting.  Hence  an  objective  for  XYZ  is  to  provide  instruction  that  supplements  standard  lectures,  and  that  is  learner-­‐centered.  For  example:  the  order,  selection  and  number  of  practice  problems  can  be  tailored  to  individual  needs.  Thus,  where  a  large  format  lecture  does  not  provide  the  opportunity  to  customize  delivery  to  the  individual,  XYZ  can.    XYZ  employs  concepts  from  social  media  to  incorporate  ‘like’  /  ‘dislike’  declarations  in  order  to  characterize  a  student’s  comfort  zone,  along  with  performance  measures.  These  data  serve  as  a  guide  for  learner-­‐centered  delivery.  XYZ  presents  the  student  with  content,  examples,  and  practice  problems  inside  the  comfort  zone,  first.  It  then  challenges  the  student  by  pushing  the  comfort  boundaries.      We  hypothesize  that  the  social  media-­‐type  of  approach  might  have  advantages  over  a  fixed  characterization  of  learning  style.  The  social  media  technique  is  more  fluid.  Hence  it  may  serve  as  a  better  basis  for  a  prediction,  for  example,  when  students  adapt  their  learning  style  as  they  progress  through  a  course.    Research  questions  for  our  early  development  include:   • Will  students  use  the  ‘Like/Dislike’  declarations  consistently?   • How  well  can  the  social  media  declarations  predict  a  student’s  comfort  zone?   • How  much  does  ‘optimal’  ordering  and  selection  of  examples  /  homework   problems,  reduce  study  time  and  improve  performance?    The  full  paper  describes  XYZ  features  and  implementation.  XYZ  includes  some  relatively  common  features  for  computer-­‐based  tools  such  as  the  integration  of  lecture,  examples,  and  assessment.  XYZ  guides  the  student  through  subject  content,  interactive  examples,  and  assessments  in  a  sequential  manner.  These  features  are  designed  to  engage  the  learner  with  interactive  exercises,  and  to  verify  readiness  prior  to  moving  on  to  additional  material.      Our  timeline  for  this  work-­‐in-­‐progress  has  system  testing  in  Fall  Quarter  2012,  recording  content  in  Winter  2013,  and  initial  deployment  to  students  in  Spring  2013.  Control  groups  for  assessment  can  be  formed  with  students  who  opt  out  of  the  social  media  declarations,  for  example.    

DePiero, F. W. (2013, June), Work-­‐in-­‐Progress: Design of an Online Learning Coach Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.

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