The science assistments project: Scaffolding scientific inquiry skills

Janice D. Gobert, Orlando Montalvo, Ermal Toto, Michael Sao Pedro, Ryan S.J.D. Baker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Scopus citations


We present our computer-based learning environment, Science Assistments ( sci-assistments/; NSF-DRL # 0733286; NSF-DGE #0742503; U.S. Dept of Ed. # R305A090170), for Physics, Life Science, and Earth Science that scaffolds middle school students' scientific process skills, namely, hypothesisgeneration, design of experiments, data collection, data interpretation, and warranting claims with evidence. Our project builds on prior development by the investigators of the Math Assistments project ( Specifically, we utilized the existing authoring functionality of the Math Assistments system and extended the logging functionality in order to capture students' fine-grained actions within interactive microworlds. In addition, we developed a suite of inquiry tools to support students' inquiry in terms of the five skills mentioned above. Together, the logging functionality and the inquiry tools provide the basis for adaptive scaffolding of students' inquiry in real time. By reacting to students' inquiry strategies in real time, we hypothesize that it will be possible to positively affect both students' science process skills, shown by more goal directed inquiry and more systematic experimentation, measured through log files, as well as students' content learning, as measured by prepost test gains. We plan to test our adaptive scaffolding in a series of randomized controlled studies in our four partner schools; the demographics of these students represent a wide range of SES and ethnic backgrounds, and thus, our data should generalize well. Goal outcomes include empirical data regarding the efficacy of our system at improving students' science learning, namely, inquiry skills and content learning, across several dependent measures in each content domain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIntelligent Tutoring Systems - 10th International Conference, ITS 2010, Proceedings
Number of pages1
EditionPART 2
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
Event10th International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems, ITS 2010 - Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Duration: Jun 14 2010Jun 18 2010

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
NumberPART 2
Volume6095 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference10th International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems, ITS 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPittsburgh, PA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


  • intelligent tutoring
  • scientific inquiry


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