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  1. The development and measurable improvements in performance of large language models on natural language tasks [12] opens up the opportunity to utilize large language models in an educational setting to replicate human tutoring, which is often costly and inaccessible. We are particularly interested in large language models from the GPT series, created by OpenAI [7]. In a prior study we found that the quality of explanations generated with GPT-3.5 was poor, where two dierent approaches to generating explanations resulted in a 43% and 10% success rate. In this replication study, we were interested in whether the measurable improvements in GPT-4 performance [6] led to a higher rate of success for generating valid explanations compared to GPT-3.5. A replication of the original study was conducted by using GPT-4 to generate explanations for the same problems given to GPT-3.5. Using GPT-4, explanation correctness dramatically improved to a success rate of 94%.We were further interested in evaluating if GPT-4 explanations were positively perceived compared to human-written explanations. A preregistered, single-blinded study was implemented where 10 evaluators were asked to rate the quality of randomized GPT-4 and teacher-created explanations. Even with 4% of problems containing some amount of incorrect content, GPT-4 explanations were preferred over human explanations. The implications of our signi- cant results at Learning @ Scale are that digital platforms can start A/B testing the eects of GPT-4 generated explanations on student learning, implementing explanations at scale, and also prompt programming to test dierent education theories, e.g., social emotional learning factors [5]. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  2. This work proposes Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy, a novel contextual multi-armed bandit algorithm that can adaptively assign personalized content to users while enabling unbiased statistical analysis. Traditional A/B testing and reinforcement learning approaches have trade-offs between empirical investigation and maximal impact on users. Our algorithm seeks to balance these objectives, allowing platforms to personalize content effectively while still gathering valuable data. Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy was evaluated via simulation and an empirical study in the ASSISTments online learning platform. In simulation, Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy performed comparably to existing algorithms and in ASSISTments, slightly increased students’ learning compared to A/B testing. Data collected from its recommendations allowed for the identification of qualitative interactions, which showed high and low knowledge students benefited from different content. Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy holds promise as a method to balance personalization with unbiased statistical analysis. All the data collected during the simulation and empirical study are publicly available at https://osf.io/zuwf7/. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  3. This work proposes Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy, a novel contextual multi-armed bandit algorithm that can adaptively assign personalized content to users while enabling unbiased statistical analysis. Traditional A/B testing and reinforcement learning approaches have trade-offs between empirical investigation and maximal impact on users. Our algorithm seeks to balance these objectives, allowing platforms to personalize content effectively while still gathering valuable data. Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy was evaluated via simulation and an empirical study in the ASSISTments online learning platform. In simulation, Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy performed comparably to existing algorithms and in ASSISTments, slightly increased students’ learning compared to A/B testing. Data collected from its recommendations allowed for the identification of qualitative interactions, which showed high and low knowledge students benefited from different content. Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy holds promise as a method to balance personalization with unbiased statistical analysis. All the data collected during the simulation and empirical study are publicly available at https://osf.io/zuwf7/. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 18, 2024
  4. There is a growing need to empirically evaluate the quality of online instructional interventions at scale. In response, some online learning platforms have begun to implement rapid A/B testing of instructional interventions. In these scenarios, students participate in series of randomized experiments that evaluate problem-level interventions in quick succession, which makes it difficult to discern the effect of any particular intervention on their learning. Therefore, distal measures of learning such as posttests may not provide a clear understanding of which interventions are effective, which can lead to slow adoption of new instructional methods. To help discern the effectiveness of instructional interventions, this work uses data from 26,060 clickstream sequences of students across 31 different online educational experiments exploring 51 different research questions and the students’ posttest scores to create and analyze different proximal surrogate measures of learning that can be used at the problem level. Through feature engineering and deep learning approaches, next-problem correctness was determined to be the best surrogate measure. As more data from online educational experiments are collected, model based surrogate measures can be improved, but for now, next-problem correctness is an empirically effective proximal surrogate measure of learning for analyzing rapid problemlevel experiments. The data and code used in this work can be found at https://osf.io/uj48v/. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  5. There is a growing need to empirically evaluate the quality of online instructional interventions at scale. In response, some online learning platforms have begun to implement rapid A/B testing of instructional interventions. In these scenarios, students participate in series of randomized experiments that evaluate problem-level interventions in quick succession, which makes it difficult to discern the effect of any particular intervention on their learning. Therefore, distal measures of learning such as posttests may not provide a clear understanding of which interventions are effective, which can lead to slow adoption of new instructional methods. To help discern the effectiveness of instructional interventions, this work uses data from 26,060 clickstream sequences of students across 31 different online educational experiments exploring 51 different research questions and the students’ posttest scores to create and analyze different proximal surrogate measures of learning that can be used at the problem level. Through feature engineering and deep learning approaches, next-problem correctness was determined to be the best surrogate measure. As more data from online educational experiments are collected, model based surrogate measures can be improved, but for now, next-problem correctness is an empirically effective proximal surrogate measure of learning for analyzing rapid problemlevel experiments. The data and code used in this work can be found at https://osf.io/uj48v/. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  6. This work proposes Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy, a novel contextual multi-armed bandit algorithm that can adaptively assign personalized content to users while enabling unbiased statistical analysis. Traditional A/B testing and reinforcement learning approaches have trade-offs between empirical investigation and maximal impact on users. Our algorithm seeks to balance these objectives, allowing platforms to personalize content effectively while still gathering valuable data. Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy was evaluated via simulation and an empirical study in the ASSISTments online learning platform. In simulation, Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy performed comparably to existing algorithms and in ASSISTments, slightly increased students’ learning compared to A/B testing. Data collected from its recommendations allowed for the identification of qualitative interactions, which showed high and low knowledge students benefited from different content. Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy holds promise as a method to balance personalization with unbiased statistical analysis. All the data collected during the simulation and empirical study are publicly available at https://osf.io/zuwf7/. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  7. This work proposes Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy, a novel con- textual multi-armed bandit algorithm that can adaptively assign personalized content to users while enabling unbiased statistical analysis. Traditional A/B testing and reinforcement learning ap- proaches have trade-offs between empirical investigation and max- imal impact on users. Our algorithm seeks to balance these objec- tives, allowing platforms to personalize content effectively while still gathering valuable data. Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy was evaluated via simulation and an empirical study in the ASSIST- ments online learning platform. In simulation, Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy performed comparably to existing algorithms and in ASSISTments, slightly increased students’ learning compared to A/B testing. Data collected from its recommendations allowed for the identification of qualitative interactions, which showed high and low knowledge students benefited from different content. Dynamic Linear Epsilon-Greedy holds promise as a method to bal- ance personalization with unbiased statistical analysis. All the data collected during the simulation and empirical study are publicly available at https://osf.io/zuwf7/. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  8. Randomized A/B tests within online learning platforms represent an exciting direction in learning sciences. With minimal assumptions, they allow causal effect estimation without confounding bias and exact statistical inference even in small samples. However, often experimental samples and/or treatment effects are small, A/B tests are under-powered, and effect estimates are overly imprecise. Recent methodological advances have shown that power and statistical precision can be substantially boosted by coupling design-based causal estimation to machine-learning models of rich log data from historical users who were not in the experiment. Estimates using these techniques remain unbiased and inference remains exact without any additional assumptions. This paper reviews those methods and applies them to a new dataset including over 250 randomized A/B comparisons conducted within ASSISTments, an online learning platform. We compare results across experiments using four novel deep-learning models of auxiliary data, and show that incorporating auxiliary data into causal estimates is roughly equivalent to increasing the sample size by 20% on average, or as much as 50-80% in some cases, relative to t-tests, and by about 10% on average, or as much as 30-50%, compared to cutting-edge machine learning unbiased estimates that use only data from the experiments. We show the gains can be even larger for estimating subgroup effects, that they hold even when the remnant is unrepresentative of the A/B test sample, and extend to post-stratification population effects estimators. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 21, 2024
  9. Many online learning platforms and MOOCs incorporate some amount of video-based content into their platform, but there are few randomized controlled experiments that evaluate the effectiveness of the different methods of video integration. Given the large amount of publicly available educational videos, an investigation into this content's impact on students could help lead to more effective and accessible video integration within learning platforms. In this work, a new feature was added into an existing online learning platform that allowed students to request skill-related videos while completing their online middle-school mathematics assignments. A total of 18,535 students participated in two large-scale randomized controlled experiments related to providing students with publicly available educational videos. The first experiment investigated the effect of providing students with the opportunity to request these videos, and the second experiment investigated the effect of using a multi-armed bandit algorithm to recommend relevant videos. Additionally, this work investigated which features of the videos were significantly predictive of students' performance and which features could be used to personalize students' learning. Ultimately, students were mostly disinterested in the skill-related videos, preferring instead to use the platforms existing problem-specific support, and there was no statistically significant findings in either experiment. Additionally, while no video features were significantly predictive of students' performance, two video features had significant qualitative interactions with students' prior knowledge, which showed that different content creators were more effective for different groups of students. These findings can be used to inform the design of future video-based features within online learning platforms and the creation of different educational videos specifically targeting higher or lower knowledge students. The data and code used in this work can be found at https://osf.io/cxkzf/. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 20, 2024
  10. Many online learning platforms and MOOCs incorporate some amount of video-based content into their platform, but there are few randomized controlled experiments that evaluate the effectiveness of the different methods of video integration. Given the large amount of publicly available educational videos, an investigation into this content’s impact on students could help lead to more effective and accessible video integration within learning platforms. In this work, a new feature was added into an existing online learning platform that allowed students to request skill-related videos while completing their online middle-school mathematics assignments. A total of 18,535 students participated in two large-scale randomized controlled experiments related to providing students with publicly available educational videos. The first experiment investigated the effect of providing students with the opportunity to request these videos, and the second experiment investigated the effect of using a multi-armed bandit algorithm to recommend relevant videos. Additionally, this work investigated which features of the videos were significantly predictive of students’ performance and which features could be used to personalize students’ learning. Ultimately, students were mostly disinterested in the skill-related videos, preferring instead to use the platforms existing problem specific support, and there was no statistically significant findings in either experiment. Additionally, while no video features were significantly predictive of students’ performance, two video features had significant qualitative interactions with students’ prior knowledge, which showed that different content creators were more effective for different groups of students. These findings can be used to inform the design of future video-based features within online learning platforms and the creation of different educational videos specifically targeting higher or lower knowledge students. The data and code used in this work can be found at https://osf.io/cxkzf/. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024