Casey R Hickerson


An Online Tutoring System for Middle School Mathematics
PDF Mathtutor Poster (2.2 MB)

Cognitive tutors, a family of intelligent tutoring systems based on the ACT-R theory of cognition, help students to learn by providing step-by-step hints and feedback messages as the students solve real problems. Such systems have been shown to improve learning in many contexts and have been adopted by many schools and school systems.

With support from the Institute of Education Sciences of the US Department of Education, we built a website that provides free, individualized mathematics instruction for middle-school students using tutors built with Cognitive Tutor Authoring Tools developed at Carnegie Mellon University.

The first version of the site primarily supports after-school tutoring programs in which students are guided by a human tutor. Later versions will use cognitive modeling to select exercises that meet students' individual needs without a tutor's guidance. We anticipate that site will be useful in a broad range of contexts: classroom instruction, extracurricular tutoring, supplemental and remedial instruction, homework and home schooling.

My primary responsibilities as lead interaction designer included: performing background research and conducting precedent studies to refine the project's scope; generating prototypes, use cases and scenarios to identify functional and technical requirements; working with students, teachers, tutors and other domain experts to produce and improve users' experience; organizing the site's information architecture; and designing the site's overall look and feel.

Principal Investigators: Vincent Aleven and Bruce McLaren
Laboratory: Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Sponsor: Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education
Contribution Timeframe: April 2008–August 2009

Further Information: Mathtutor