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  1. 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
  2. Teachers often rely on the use of a range of open-ended problems to assess students’ understanding of mathematical concepts. Beyond traditional conceptions of student openended work, commonly in the form of textual short-answer or essay responses, the use of figures, tables, number lines, graphs, and pictographs are other examples of open-ended work common in mathematics. While recent developments in areas of natural language processing and machine learning have led to automated methods to score student open-ended work, these methods have largely been limited to textual answers. Several computer-based learning systems allow students to take pictures of hand-written work and include such images within their answers to open-ended questions. With that, however, there are few-to-no existing solutions that support the auto-scoring of student hand-written or drawn answers to questions. In this work, we build upon an existing method for auto-scoring textual student answers and explore the use of OpenAI/CLIP, a deep learning embedding method designed to represent both images and text, as well as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to improve model performance. We evaluate the performance of our method on a dataset of student open-responses that contains both text- and image-based responses, and find a reduction of model error in the presence of images when controlling for other answer-level features. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 5, 2024
  3. The use of Bayesian Knowledge Tracing (BKT) models in predicting student learning and mastery, especially in mathematics, is a well-established and proven approach in learning analytics. In this work, we report on our analysis examining the generalizability of BKT models across academic years attributed to ”detector rot.” We compare the generalizability of Knowledge Training (KT) models by comparing model performance in predicting student knowledge within the academic year and across academic years. Models were trained on data from two popular open-source curricula available through Open Educational Resources. We observed that the models generally were highly performant in predicting student learning within an academic year, whereas certain academic years were more generalizable than other academic years. We posit that the Knowledge Tracing models are relatively stable in terms of performance across academic years yet can still be susceptible to systemic changes and underlying learner behavior. As indicated by the evidence in this paper, we posit that learning platforms leveraging KT models need to be mindful of systemic changes or drastic changes in certain user demographics. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  4. Math performance continues to be an important focus for improvement. Many districts adopted educational technology programs to support student learning and teacher instruction. The ASSISTments program provides feedback to students as they solve homework problems and automatically prepares reports for teachers about student performance on daily assignments. During the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years, WestEd led a large-scale randomized controlled trial to replicate the effects of ASSISTments in 63 schools in North Carolina in the US. 32 treatment schools implemented ASSISTments in 7th-grade math classrooms. Recently, we conducted a follow-up analysis to measure the long-term effects of ASSISTments on student performance one year after the intervention, when the students were in 8th grade. The initial results suggested that implementing ASSISTments in 7th grade improved students’ performance in 8th grade and minority students benefited more from the intervention. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 30, 2024
  5. Large language models have recently been able to perform well in a wide variety of circumstances. In this work, we explore the possibility of large language models, specifically GPT-3, to write explanations for middle-school mathematics problems, with the goal of eventually using this process to rapidly generate explanations for the mathematics problems of new curricula as they emerge, shortening the time to integrate new curricula into online learning platforms. To generate explanations, two approaches were taken. The first approach attempted to summarize the salient advice in tutoring chat logs between students and live tutors. The second approach attempted to generate explanations using few-shot learning from explanations written by teachers for similar mathematics problems. After explanations were generated, a survey was used to compare their quality to that of explanations written by teachers. We test our methodology using the GPT-3 language model. Ultimately, the synthetic explanations were unable to outperform teacher written explanations. In the future more powerful large language models may be employed, and GPT-3 may still be effective as a tool to augment teachers’ process for writing explanations, rather than as a tool to replace them. The explanations, survey results, analysis code, and a dataset of tutoring chat logs are all available at https://osf.io/wh5n9/. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 30, 2024
  6. Feedback is a crucial factor in mathematics learning and instruction. Whether expressed as indicators of correctness or textual comments, feedback can help guide students’ understanding of content. Beyond this, however, teacher-written messages and comments can provide motivational and affective benefits for students. The question emerges as to what constitutes effective feedback to promote not only student learning but also motivation and engagement. Teachers may have different perceptions of what constitutes effective feedback utilizing different tones in their writing to communicate their sentiment while assessing student work. This study aims to investigate trends in teacher sentiment and tone when providing feedback to students in a middle school mathematics class context. Toward this, we examine the applicability of state-of-the-art sentiment analysis methods in a mathematics context and explore the use of punctuation marks in teacher feedback messages as a measure of tone. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 30, 2024
  7. 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
  8. Roll, I ; McNamara, D ; Sosnovsky, S ; Luckin, R ; Dimitrova, V. (Ed.)
    Knowledge tracing refers to a family of methods that estimate each student’s knowledge component/skill mastery level from their past responses to questions. One key limitation of most existing knowledge tracing methods is that they can only estimate an overall knowledge level of a student per knowledge component/skill since they analyze only the (usually binary-valued) correctness of student responses. Therefore, it is hard to use them to diagnose specific student errors. In this paper, we extend existing knowledge tracing methods beyond correctness prediction to the task of predicting the exact option students select in multiple choice questions. We quantitatively evaluate the performance of our option tracing methods on two large-scale student response datasets. We also qualitatively evaluate their ability in identifying common student errors in the form of clusters of incorrect options across different questions that correspond to the same error. 
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  9. null (Ed.)