Component-Based Construction of a Science Learning Space

In IJAIED 10 (3): "'Best of ITS 98' Special Issue "

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We present a vision for learning environments, called Science Learning Spaces, that are rich in engaging content and activities, provide constructive experiences in scientific process skills, and are as instructionally effective as a personal tutor. A Science Learning Space combines three independent software systems: 1) simulations in which experiments are run and data is collected, 2) representation construction tools in which data is analyzed and conceptual models are expressed and evaluated, and 3) tutor agents that provide just-in-time assistance for acquiring higher order skills like experimental strategy, representational tool choice, conjecturing, and argument. Achieving the Science Learning Space vision will require collaborative efforts facilitated by a component-based software architecture. We have created a feasibility demonstration that serves as an example and a call for further work toward achieving this vision. In our demonstration, we combined 1) the Active Illustrations simulation environment, 2) the Belvedere evidence mapping environment, and 3) a model-tracing Experimentation Tutor Agent. We illustrate student interaction in this Science Learning Space and discuss the requirements, advantages, and challenges in creating one.