Enchancing Collaborative Learning Using a Simulate Student Agent
Vizcaíno Barceló, Aurora
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Computer Supported Collaborative Learning offers students many advantages. Learners may work with other students, and can therefore exchange ideas, and reflect upon other points of view. However, when students work in a group certain circumstances may occur that hamper collaboration or learning. For example, when there is a passive student in a group, the group's performance is usually lower than when all the students participate actively. Solutions to control these "negative" situations should be researched. In this thesis we present a possible solution to the problem: using a Simulated Student to monitor students' behaviour in order to detect and avoid negative situations. This work describes the architecture of the Simulated Student and explains its implementation in a real system, HabiPro. The roles and interventions of the Simulated Student to avoid three circumstances: passive students, off-topic conversations and students who have difficulties in finding the correct solution, are also outlined. HabiPro is a collaborative, synchronous and distributed system that was implemented to help students to develop good programming habits, principally: debugging, programming comprehension and style of programming, three very important but rarely taught aspects on programming courses. HabiPro enables students to solve programming problems collaboratively even though students are in different geographical locations since users communicate with each other via a chat window. In order to validate the effectiveness of the Simulated Student's detection of these three situations an experiment was performed. Twenty-two pairs of students worked with two HabiPro versions. One version contained the Simulated Student and the other version did not. The experiment showed that the Simulated Student detected and solved the problems in the majority of the cases; in addition students solved more exercises using the version with the Simulated Student. The experiment also revealed that students considered HabiPro a good learning method.