Verification, Validation and Evaluation of Heterogeneous Software for the CAETI Project
  • Agency: DARPA: Computer Aided Education and Training Initiative (CAETI) Project.
  • Duration: August 1995 - July 1997

In 1995 Pragati was awarded a DARPA grant in the CAETI (Computer-Aided Education and Training Initiative) project, for evaluation of computer-aided learning systems used in K-12 grades. Under this project Pragati Inc. developed a prototype research tool to support the goal of "Extracting Learning Models" (ELM) from execution traces of educational resources. The final aim was to support the goal of developing educational software that is adaptable to student's style/preference of learning. Learning through an educational software resource is very similar to learning in a classroom except that the former is capable of capturing the various stages of comprehension of a student in trace history files.

ELM is a prototype tool for showing the feasibility of extracting different learning models through a context-directed analysis of execution traces from an educational software resource. The test bed used for developing our prototype was North Western University's Evaporation Laboratory, which teaches (through computer software) middle school students, dependency relationships of various parameters like pressure, temperature, etc. on evaporation of water. ELM was built to analyze a student's actions while the student is interacting with the Evaporation Lab.

The analysis results produced from ELM can be used in two different ways. First, it would allow study of the cognitive demands placed on the student by the software in the context of certain well-accepted paradigms of learning, such as Piaget's Theory of Equilibrium in Cognitive Systems. A cognitive educational psychologist interested in discovering new paradigms can also use ELM as a prototype tool or theorems of learning by performing different types of qualitative analysis on student's actions captured in the trace files. Second, it would allows evaluation of the effectiveness of the software with respect to its educational objectives, by exposing regions in the software where students have shown slow or rapid progress. This type of analysis can pave the way for developing software that is more geared for student-centered learning. Educational software developers can incorporate these models in their software so as to adapt the content/style of teaching according to students' aptitudes.

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