Carnegie Mellon University

New Educational Technology Projects Receive CMU ProSEED Funding

September 12, 2017

Simon Initiative ProSEED

Six technology-enhanced learning (TEL) projects designed to improve education while advancing our understanding of how humans learn have received funding from Carnegie Mellon University’s ProSEED grant program. Part of the university’s Simon Initiative, the projects will leverage CMU’s learning engineering ecosystem and integrate learning research with data-driven, innovative educational practices.

ProSEED provides startup support for innovative projects that span disciplines and allow researchers and educators to complete the fundamental research needed to take their work to the next level. The Simon ProSEED projects support the university’s strategic plan by advancing and applying CMU’s world-leading research in learning science and TEL.

Norman Bier, executive director of the Simon Initiative, believes the ProSEED program is critical to generating new ideas and learning tools.

“It has been clear over multiple rounds that the seed concept and providing basic funding for innovative and collaborative ideas in the educational technology space works,” Bier said. “We have seen the improvements applied to our own students at CMU and beyond, and I’m excited to see the how the latest recipients continue on those successes.”

Funding for the nine new projects totals $87,508. The Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Mellon College of Science, Heinz College, School of Computer Science and College of Fine Arts have provided matching funds.

The projects are:

Scaling Maker Portfolios
The IDeATe Gallery is a tool that supports the development of learning portfolios in maker-based education by enabling students to document, express, share and review outcomes. To date, more than 350 IDeATe students have used the platform for approximately 1,550 projects and over a hundred assignments. Daragh Byrne, assistant teaching professor of architecture in the College of Fine Arts, will use a ProSEED grant to extend IDeATe Gallery as a resource that can be used across CMU’s campus as well as support core research on peer-critiques in maker-based contexts.

Teaching Data Science Problem-Solving Skills at Scale
The School of Computer Science’s Artur Dubrawski and Heinz College’s Karen Chen will create a scalable technology-enhanced learning (TEL) platform that enables teacher-student mentoring on solving data science problems through accelerated apprenticeships. The TEL tool will be able to be used by a large and diverse group of students without the constraints of limited mentoring resources. It will consist of a large repository of interactive practice case problems that are enhanced with learning-by-doing features and a simulation game integrated with R language programming.

Evaluating TEL Tool for Personalized Learning Feedback
The Department of English’s Suguru Ishizaki, David Kaufer, Danielle Wetzel and Necia Werner have built a TEL prototype to provide student writers with meaningful and individualized feedback. The tool visualizes the “cohesiveness” of writing by highlighting words and synonyms that are repeated between sentences and/or paragraphs. The ProSEED grant will be used to evaluate its effectiveness.

Scaffolding Active Learning for Scientific Principles
Kody Manke, visiting assistant teaching professor of psychology, and Ken Koedinger, professor of human-computer interaction and psychology, are teaming up to test whether students will gain a more robust understanding of scientific principles and methods through active learning that involves key steps of scientific (re)discovery. They will use the grant in an introductory psychology course by contrasting learning from active inquiry and TEL feedback with learning from online videos.

Creating Database Tools for Creative Storytelling With Mobile Technology
For the past two years, Lawrence Shea, associate professor of drama, has worked on the Center for the Arts in Society-funded project “Ghosts in the Machine” to explore how new technologies can enhance live performances. In Shea’s course on “Mediated Reality,” students use smartphone-based media, GPS location data and other technical tools to create location-based storytelling. Shea has customized off-the-shelf technology to help the students process large amounts of historical data, media objects and narrative information. The ProSEED grant will allow him to evaluate and further develop the tools.

Using OLI To Improve and Monitor Learning and Instruction
Chemistry Professor David Yaron currently uses two kinds of learning resources in his Modern Chemistry II class: introductory materials, such as textbooks and online homework assignments, and more challenging materials like lectures, recitations, homework and exams. The ProSEED grant will help Yaron to develop an Open Learning Initiative (OLI) course that will replace the current introductory materials with a more coherent set of instruction. It will include practice questions, supported through hints and feedback, and quizzes. He will also collect grading data from high-stakes quizzes and exams and use it, along with data from interviews and classroom observations, to improve the resources and how they are used in the course.

Related Article

Simon ProSEED Grants Awarded to Nine Learning Science Projects
By: Shilo Rea