Sail: a system for adaptive interest-based learning in stem education
Aguar, Karen Elizabeth
MetadataShow full item record
The aim of this research is to alleviate many challenges faced in STEM education through the creation of a scalable, adaptive learning framework that supports interest-based learning (IBL) in multiple domains. Adaptive Learning is the idea that software and material should “adapt” to individual student’s needs, typically based on previous knowledge, pace, or learning style. This research takes a less explored approach by adapting content and practice problems based on a student’s interests. Interest-based learning (IBL) has been shown to improve intrinsic motivation, leading to better learning and achievements, but no solution currently exists to facilitate and promote IBL across multiple domains. This work presents the design and pilot of SAIL, a System for Adaptive Interest-based Learning, to easily facilitate IBL in an adaptive and scalable platform. SAIL is not limited by domain, but was designed with STEM subjects in mind due to their high applicability in other fields. With SAIL, one student in an introductory programming course could practice loops through sports-themed examples while another could learn through music or science. SAIL was designed to help alleviate many of the concerns in STEM education by providing a competent and compelling curriculum delivering individualized instruction to help increase motivation, performance and fill the gaps in STEM education. SAIL showcases the interconnectivity of STEM subjects with other fields, combatting misperceptions and increasing motivation to help attract and retain a larger and more diverse population of students. With SAIL, students become active participants in their learning experience as they utilize an interactive map to traverse their unique path through interest-based course material. A large pilot study (N=307) in the context of introductory programming (Java) was conducted comparing a class using SAIL to three other classes with varying control conditions. This study resulted in new quantitative and qualitative knowledge about how SAIL can impact introductory Computer Science (CS) as well as assessing viability for other STEM fields, including K-12 STEM education. Via SAIL, we raise the standard of education, increase enjoyment, remedy gender disparities, and aid in encouraging more students to continue their CS education.