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The Pathway Active Learning Environment: An interactive web-based tool for physics education

, Kansas State University, United States

Kansas State University . Awarded


The work described here represents an effort to design, construct, and test an interactive online multimedia learning environment that can provide physics instruction to students in their homes. The system was designed with one-on-one human tutoring in mind as the mode of instruction. The system uses an original combination of a video-based tutor that incorporates natural language processing video-centered lessons and additional illustrative multimedia. Our Synthetic Interview (SI) tutor provides pre-recorded video answers from expert physics instructors in response to students' typed natural language questions. Our lessons cover Newton's laws and provide a context for the tutoring interaction to occur, connect physics ideas to real-world behavior of mechanical systems, and allow for quantitative testing of physics. Additional multimedia can be used to supplement the SI tutors' explanations and illustrate the physics of interest. The system is targeted at students of algebra-based and concept-based physics at the college and high school level. The system logs queries to the SI tutor, responses to lesson questions and several other interactions with the system, tagging those interactions with a username and timestamp. We have provided several groups of students with access to our system under several different conditions ranging from the controlled conditions of our interview facility to the naturalistic conditions of use at home. In total nearly two-hundred students have accessed the system. To gain insight into the ways students might use the system and understand the utility of its various components we analyzed qualitative interview data collected with 22 algebra-based physics students who worked with our system in our interview facility. We also performed a descriptive analysis of data from the system's log of user interactions. Finally we explored the use of machine learning to explore the possibility of using automated assessment to augment the interactive capabilities of the system as well as to identify productive and unproductive use patterns. This work establishes a proof-of-concept level demonstration of the feasibility of deploying this type of system. The impact of this work and the possibility of future research efforts are discussed in the context of Internet technologies that are changing rapidly.


Nakamura, C.M. The Pathway Active Learning Environment: An interactive web-based tool for physics education. Ph.D. thesis, Kansas State University. Retrieved April 26, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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