Strand D

Area of Emphasis: STEM Education and Teaching and Learning with Technology

My Problem of Practice Across Two Domains

I’ve consistently worked to expand my use of inquiry techniques while also adopting classroom technology enthusiastically and quickly. I value both the time-saving aspects and the opportunities to augment and redesign learning tasks. As I initially began to try to pinpoint a problem of practice, I identified four broad challenges: 1) building differentiation and self-determination into an inquiry classroom, 2) the difficulty in assessing inquiry learning, 3) student unwillingness to engage in genuine high-level scientific discourse, and 4) professional development and teacher training in science education. The effective adoption of the right technologies has the potential to facilitate gains in all four of these challenges.

When I took Dr. Olmanson's Artificial Intelligence course (TEAC 882D), I became fascinated by the possible applications of the tools we discussed: machine learning, natural language understanding, deep neural networks, and more. As I have learned to be a Technology Director, my capacity to understand and navigate the more technical aspects of the tools increased and I was able to experiment with some of the platforms that are available for creating artificially intelligent interfaces, like chatbots. As I completed my project in this class (shown in Strand D: Artificial Intelligence), I recognized that there are few areas of research that sparked as much interest and enthusiasm for me as this one did.

With that in mind, I joined Dr. Olmanson's project course the following summer. As I deepened my understanding of the technology, I came to believe that chatbots and non-traditional user interfaces could create interesting and effective learning conversations for students and thus the idea was born to create chatbot-based assessments. My problem of practice stretches from the challenges of a research-based, dynamic science classroom to the exciting potential of artificial intelligence in education.

My Areas of Emphasis

My areas of expertise overlap within areas of emphasis four and five:

  • (4) STEM Education
  • (5) Teaching and Learning with Technologies

In Strand A, I described my professional growth as both a science teacher and as a classroom technologist. I have focused Strand B on the literature and background knowledge supporting science curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment. For Strand D I am reviewing the projects, experiences, and readings specific to technology usage in the science classroom. Being situated in the highly technical areas of school technology implementation, classroom technology usage, and science pedagogy, my skill and knowledge sets have become wide enough to fall into both of the above areas of emphasis.

Constraints and Limitations

While I am skilled at systems management and instructional technology usage and training, I am not a skilled programmer. Thus my project will be focused on identifying tools, building a prototype example of a conversational assessment agent and identifying conversation patterns relevant to assessing the science standards. I hope to further identify potential pathways and challenges towards using AI-based assessment at the teacher level, as well as at the state and national levels.