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Scaffolding Science Learning and Teaching in Middle School Classrooms through Automated Wise Crowd Analysis of Students’ Writing 

Constructing evidence-based written explanations is key aspect of learning science.  This project addresses the need to support students’ written explanations in science through a novel, automated technology to provide students and teachers with real-time feedback about students’ written explanations.

The new technology will integrate the tool PyrEval, developed by Dr. Rebecca Passonneau. It will support students’ reasoning and explanations using two complementary mechanisms: automated assessment and feedback of students’ science explanations using a wise crowd model PyrEval, and feedback to teachers provided through aggregated data about students’ writing generated by the wise crowd system. The feedback students get from the wise crowd model and from teachers will be integrated within a framework of distributed scaffolding put forth by Dr. Puntambekar.

As students work on a physics unit to design roller coasters, WritePal will help students to

  • Recognize the strengths and limitations of evidence, and understand better what the patterns in their data suggest
  • Articulate their reasoning about the evidence they collected
  • Integrate knowledge obtained from different investigations to enable a more robust understanding of science content and practices.

Rebecca Passonneau, Penn State University.
ChanMin Kim, Penn State University.

Funded by the National Science Foundation’s DRK-12 Program