Multi-methods Approach for Domain-Specific Grounding: An ITS for Connection Making in Chemistry

Martina A. Rau, Amanda L. Evenstone

Making connections between graphical representations is integral to learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) fields. However, students often fail to make these connections spontaneously. ITSs are suitable tools to support connection making. Yet, when designing an ITS for connection making, we need to investigate what learning processes and concepts play a role within the specific domain. We describe a multi-methods approach for grounding ITS design in the specific requirements of the target domain. Specifically, we applied this approach to an ITS for connection making in chemistry. We used a theoretical framework that describes potential target learning processes and conducted two empirical studies – using tests, eye tracking, and interviews – to investigate how these learning processes play out in the chemistry domain. We illustrate how our findings inform the design of a chemistry tutor. Initial pilot study results suggest that the ITS promotes learning processes that are productive in chemistry.

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