ASSISTments Meets Inquiry

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

The goal of the AMI project (Assistments Meets Inquiry) is to develop a technology-based assessment system for Middle School Physical Science to be aligned with the Massachusetts Curricular Frameworks. We will do this by: 1) leveraging from the existing authoring functionality in the ASSISTments project for Math (developed by Neil Heffernan & colleagues) in order to develop Science Assistments, 2) extending the logging functionality for this system in order to capture students’ fine grained actions with microworlds, 3) evaluating students’ interactions with models using a framework for aggregating students’ actions into domain-general inquiry skills, and 4) extending the existing reporting infrastructure to report students’ inquiry skills to teachers for formative assessment so s/he can determine which skills his/her students are performing poorly on.


We are working in two urban schools and a small group of suburban/rural schools in the Central MA area. Worcester is the third largest city in Massachusetts, with high levels of children on free- or assisted-lunch programs. The area also is home to children of many different ethnicities, and as such, provides data that are likely to generalize well across the United States.

Research Design: 

This project has a longitudinal research design and will generate evidence that is causal [experimental, Educational Data Mining]. Original data are being collected using school records, assessments of learning [concept pre- and post-tests for content and inquiry skills], observation [web logs], and survey research. The project is evaluating the use of adaptive scaffolding of inquiry skills within an intelligent tutoring system for science inquiry. No adaptive scaffolding is being used as the comparison condition. The analysis plan for this project involves educational data mining applied to log files of students' log files.


We have designed and implemented an intelligent tutoring system for inquiry. We have shown transfer of CVS to be robust when tested 6 months later.

Publications & Presentations: 

Sao Pedro, M., Gobert, J., & Raziuddin, J. (2010). Comparing Pedagogical Approaches for the Acquisition and Long-Term Robustness of the Control of Variables Strategy. To appear in the Proceedings of the International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Chicago, IL, June, 2010.

Sao Pedro, M., Gobert, J., Heffernan, N., & Beck, J. (2009). Comparing Pedagogical Approaches for Teaching the Control of Variables Strategy. N.A. Taatgen & H. vanRijn (Eds.), Proceedings of the 31st Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1294-1299). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Other Products: 

A set of performance assessments for Middle School science inquiry in Physical Science.