Stepbased tutoring systems are known to be more effective than traditional answerbased
systems. They however require that each step in a student’s work be accepted and evaluated automatically to provide effective feedback. In the domain of linear circuit analysis, it is frequently necessary to allow students to draw or edit circuits on their screen to simplify or otherwise transform them. Here, the interface developed to accept such input and provide
immediate feedback in the Circuit Tutor system is described, along with systematic assessment data. Advanced simplification methods such as removing circuit sections that are removably hinged, voltagesplittable, or currentsplittable are taught to students in an interactive tutorial and then supported in the circuit editor itself. To address the learning curve associated with such an interface, ~70 video tutorials were created to demonstrate exactly how to work the randomly generated problems at each level of each of the tutorials in the system. A complete written record or “transcript” of student’s work in the system is being made available, showing both incorrect and correct steps. Introductory interactive (multiple choice) tutorials are now included on most topics. Assessment of exercises using the interactive editor was carried out by professional evaluators for several institutions, including three that heavily serve underrepresented minorities. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used, including focus groups, surveys, and interviews. Controlled, randomized, blind evaluations were carried out in three different course sections in Spring and Fall 2019 to evaluate three tutorials using the interactive editor, comparing use of Circuit Tutor to both a commercial answerbased system and to conventional textbookbased paper homework. In Fall 2019, students rated the software a mean of 4.14/5 for being helpful to learn the material vs. 3.05/5 for paper homework (HW), p < 0.001 and effect size d = 1.11σ. On relevant exam questions that semester, students scored significantly (p = 0.014) higher with an effect size of d = 0.64σ when using Circuit Tutor compared to paper HW in one class section, with no significant difference in the other section.
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StepBased Tutoring Software for Complex Procedures in Circuit Analysis
Stepbased tutoring systems, in which each step of a student’s work is accepted by a computer using special interfaces and provided immediate feedback, are known to be more effective in promoting learning than traditional and more common answerbased tutoring systems, in which only the final (usually numerical) answer is evaluated. Prior work showed that this approach can be highly effective in the domain of linear circuit analysis in teaching topics involving relatively simple solution procedures. Here, we demonstrate a novel application of this approach to more cognitively complex, multistep procedures used to analyze linear circuits using the superposition and source transformation methods. Both methods require that students interactively edit a circuit diagram repeatedly, interspersed with the writing of relevant equations. Scores on posttests and student opinions are compared using a blind classroombased experiment where students are randomly assigned to use either the new system or a commercially published answerbased tutoring system on these topics. Posttest scores are not statistically significantly different but students prefer the stepbased system by a margin of 84 to 11% for superposition and 68 to 23% for source transformations.
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 Award ID(s):
 1821628
 NSFPAR ID:
 10105729
 Date Published:
 Journal Name:
 Proceedings  Frontiers in Education Conference
 ISSN:
 01905848
 Format(s):
 Medium: X
 Sponsoring Org:
 National Science Foundation
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