This NSF funded project aims to serve the national interest by creating ExplainIt, an innovative explanation-based classroom response system that provides real-time support to undergraduate STEM students and instructors by using natural language processing to analyze student explanations of STEM phenomena. The project focuses on advancing understanding of how to improve undergraduate STEM education by providing real-time formative feedback to each individual student and real-time summaries to instructors so they can quickly adapt their instruction to the current needs of their students. This just in time personalized formative feedback will lead to a deeper understanding of how students learn with explanation-based classroom response systems, including the learning gains and improvements in student engagement. It will also lead to a set of effective instructional support principles for explanation-rich classroom interactions that will be broadly applicable in multiple STEM disciplines and in diverse institutional settings. Together, these advances will yield fundamental improvements in undergraduate STEM education.
Three goals guide this project. First is to create the ExplainIt explanation-based classroom response system. Second is to produce empirically grounded research results on adaptively supporting student learning and engagement with ExplainIt. Third is to develop online resources that enable instructors to easily integrate ExplainIt into their teaching. Each year, instructors in biology, computer science, and physics will contribute to the design, development, and evaluation of the ExplainIt software.