An adaptive system for guiding open-ended problem-solving: The Invention Coach

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Catherine Chase
The Invention Coach Screenshot

A recent focus in AIED research has been to create adaptive support for learners in open-ended learning environments. However, few examples of such support have been demonstrated. Our work focuses on guiding Invention activities, in which students generate representations that explain data presented as contrasting cases. These kinds of activities have been shown to yield strong conceptual knowledge and transfer of learning in many STEM subject areas and with students of different ages. However, it is challenging for many teachers to support their students during Invention activities in the classroom. To address this need, we have created and pilot-tested a dedicated adaptive computer coach (the Invention Coach) and recently completed a classroom study to evaluate it.

The Coach’s pedagogical strategy balances structuring and problematizing, unlike many intelligent tutoring systems which favor structuring. In this poster, we describe the Invention Coach and its pedagogical model. We present evidence from our classroom study to illustrate the system’s feasibility and versatility. The contributions of the work are: an automated coach for a highly successful instructional method for which very few systems have been built, as well as identifying an adaptive coaching strategy for Invention tasks that balances structuring and problematizing.