Novice Computer Science Students Learn With A Mobile Tutor

Raised of $2,000 Goal
Ended on 11/14/14
Campaign Ended
  • $375
  • 19%
  • Finished
    on 11/14/14

About This Project

Education in Computer Science is becoming increasingly essential in today's world. Novice programmers and teachers alike face challenges in successfully navigating through foundational CS concepts. This research expands on our current intelligent tutoring system for CS Education and allows students to collaborate and work on mobile devices to further learning.

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What is the context of this research?

This research proposes to expand on the existing CS education intelligent Tutoring System, Chi-Qat-Tutor. Chi-Qat, formerly known as iList, aims at facilitating learning of basic CS data structures (e.g., linked lists, trees, stacks) and algorithmic strategies. Both widely accepted pedagogical techniques and those compiled through analysis of an accompanying tutoring corpus guide the ITS.

Chi-Qat’s primary modules involves the subject of linked list, recursion, and binary search trees. The desktop-based, Java implemented system presents students with a problem statement along with a simulated environment in which they can visualize and programmatically alter data. The most recent version of the system has produced learning gains that surpass that of human tutors.

What is the significance of this project?

A computer science intelligent tutoring system, combined with the assets of a mobile device, has the potential to facilitate richer and more accessible CS learning. However, there has been little exploration of a mobile ITS intended to better CS education.

The design of a CS education mobile ITS undoubtedly requires reconsideration of the graphical interface. Further, mobile devices offer an avenue for exploration of tutor feedback that differs from a desktop system. Namely, the usage of the user location and other aspects of user context may benefit feedback synthesis. Finally, the addition of collaborative problem solving will reinforce learning and prepare students for real-world team-based problem solving.

This research takes a needed & promising step toward furthering CS education.

What are the goals of the project?

  1. Introduce Collaboration Functionality
    • Connected devices are pathways to other learners with expertise
    • Peer-to-peer question and answer capability will be added to the current tutoring system
    • Learners may post their uncertainties regarding code
    • Peers may in turn respond with their expert advice
    • This collaboration will also enable reinforcement learning through filtering of peer questions such that those who have recently encountered the same issue are encouraged to provide expertise.
    • The optimal selection of peers to form these collaborative networks will also be explored
  2. Complete Mobile System Development
    • Currently ChiQat-Tutor is desktop based
    • Work is underway to develop the mobile version of the system for Android Tablets
    • Feedback and problems are adapted directly from the desktop version


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I am raising money to purchase android tablets needed for experiments in computer science classrooms for beginning programmers. Additionally, funds will be used to compensate students performing further pilot testing outside of the classroom. Finally, I will use funds to travel to conferences and present the research progress and results.

Meet the Team

Rachel Harsley
Rachel Harsley

Team Bio

From my early days in St. Louis, MO up until my present time in Chicago,IL I have loved to both imagine and build. Computer science is the tool I now use to create. My creations are diverse ranging from websites to more complex mobile applications for enterprise use. I travel across the country and overseas on a quest to learn, experience, connect, and synthesize. I currently research intelligent tutoring systems for computer science education in the Natural Language Processing Group at UIC. My goal is to help others experience the joys of computing.

Lab Notes

Nothing posted yet.

Press and Media

Move over, Siri: talking technology isn’t enough

Computer science students among ‘Fifty for Future’

A list of publications, including ChiQat (formerly iList) work, can be viewed here.

Download the latest ChiQat Desktop Version

Additional Information

The main login screen for the tablet version of ChiQat.

Three learning units are currently available; Binary Search Trees, Linked Lists, and Recursion.

Students are presented with the problem and an area to begin coding.

The tutor offers feedback on student code. Feedback is positive, negative, and based on timing. Other ways to generate feedback based on mobile device usage will be explored.

Collaborative support will be added to allow students to seek help from their peers using the system.

Project Backers

  • 7Backers
  • 19%Funded
  • $375Total Donations
  • $53.57Average Donation
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