Software to support the
learning and teaching of elementary algebra
The Lingot project: overview | The Pépite project | The first Pépite software | Uses of the first Pepite software |
Current work | Publications (in English) | Contributors & Acknowlegment | References |
The Lingot project is a multidisciplinary project involving computer scientists, educational researchers in mathematics, cognitive psychologists, mathematic teachers trainers and mathematics teachers.
The objective of the Lingot project is to design situations including ITS for learning algebra in secondary schools. On the one hand, the aim is to allow teachers to take into account their students’ cognitive diversity in order to manage the classroom and regulate individual learning. On the other hand the aim is to provide researchers with tools for studying systematically and on the long term, the effects of teaching strategies on learning.
The basic idea is to start from a multidimensional model of algebraic competencies in secondary schools to study the instruction given in schools. The individual competencies (accurate or not) a student has built are situated in relation with competencies the educational institution is expecting. From these analyses the research team build learning situations in order to introduce new concepts or to make students’ conceptions evolve to the expected skills. The key point is to allow the teacher to manage different learning processes which is a crucial issue, especially for students with big difficulties.
The metaphor is to look for the nuggets (in French “les pépites”) from which we can build ingots (in French “les lingots”).
Three main issues are then considered in the Lingot project:
diagnosing students’ competencies, | |
designing learning situations adapted to the students’ cognitive profiles, | |
designing instruments to support teacher activity. |
The Lingot project: overview | The Pépite project | The first Pépite software | Uses of the first Pepite software |
Current work | Publications (in English) | Contributors & Acknowlegment | References |
This is the diagnosis part of the Lingot project. The basic idea is that students’ answers to a set of well chosen problems show coherences in their reasoning and computing. Understanding these coherences will help teachers to tune the learning situations better.
The foundation of the project is a research work in mathematical education from Brigitte Gruegeon a resercher from DIDREM (Université Paris 7). From a review of theoretical and empirical work published and from a long term study of student algebraic activity, Brigitte Grugeon built a multidimensional model of algebraic competencies expected from students in French secondary schools (15-16 years old).
The main dimensions considered are:
mastered skills, | |
meaning of letters, | |
processing algebraic expressions, | |
translation between different representations, | |
types of justifications. |
Students’ algebraic competencies and difficulties are analysed with three entries:
type of problems (algebra as a tool to solve arithmetical problems, generalisation problems, proving problems, modelling problems), | |
the objects of algebra | |
formal computing. |
She proposed a test : a set of about twenty exercises with closed questions and open questions.
Then an analysis grid derived from the model of competencies is used by a human (a teacher or more probably a researcher) to code the students’ answers to each exercises of the test. Then carrying out a global analysis of the coding results, the teacher (or researcher) builds a cognitive profile of the student in algebra. Figure 3, 4 and 5 show the Lauren’s cognitive profile built by a teacher with the software that supports this diagnosis method.
It is a three levels description of the student’s competencies:
A quantitative description expressed by success rates on mastered skills, | |
A qualitative description expressed by characteristics of students in giving the meaning of letters, processing algebraic expressions, translating between representations, type of rationality, | |
A description of flexibility between representations expressed by a diagram indicating the links between representation modes the student mastered. |
This paper and pencil diagnosis tool is too complex to be used by teachers in every day classrooms. So the first research work of the Pépite project was to explore the idea of the automation of the paper and pencil tool. This work [9] intended to demonstrate:
the possibility to collect with a computer data on students’ competencies from which experts could build the students’ profiles, | |
the possibility to automate this diagnosis (at least partly), | |
the possibility for teachers to make decisions in their classrooms from these cognitive profiles. |
The Lingot project: overview | The Pépite project | The first Pépite software | Uses of the first Pepite software |
Current work | Publications (in English) | Contributors & Acknowlegment | References |
Pépite is a free software available in french in the web. The first version was implemented in Delphi by S. Jean. Then a second version improving the automatic diagnosis and including users’ suggestions for improving usability and effectiveness has been implemented by D. Prévit. Following the diagnostic strategy proposed by Grugeon, Pépite software is made of three modules.
It proposes 22 exercises derived from the paper and pencil tasks and it gathers students’ answers to problems. It contains
closed questions with Multiple Choices answers or more interactive answering techniques (for instance matching of clickable parts of a graphic), but with a limited number of possible answers). | |
open questions requiring the student to produce algebraic expressions or natural language answers or mixed answers (we call “mathural language”). |
For educational researchers it is important for the diagnostic that the students can provide explanations by themselves.
A great attention has been paid to HCI design issues because it is crucial for the diagnostic that the data collected be indicators of students’ competencies and not indicators of interface manipulation problems. In particular, the mathematical educational researchers in the project team were very suspicious at the beginning about the modifications in the mathematical tasks due to the difficulties to enter algebraic expressions with a keyboard and a mouse. Figure 1 shows a student’s answer to an exercise.
It “interprets” students’ answers to every exercise of PepiTest. Like in the paper and pencil tool, it matches every student’s answer with an item of diagnostic. We call that operation coding student’s answers. PepiDiag automatically fills a “diagnostic matrix” of 55 questions and 35 items derived from the multidimensional model of algebraic competencies. In fact it partially fills the matrix. The closed answers and algebraic expressions are analysed. Answers in natural language and mixed answers are very partially analysed by key words analysis. So 75 % of the students’ answers are automatically analysed.
It establishes the student’s profile from the filled matrix by transversal analysis and presents it to the teacher. It also provides an interface to modify the coding of student’ answers (i.e. to modify the diagnosis matrix without showing it to the teacher) in order to allow the teacher to control the software coding and to correct or complete it when necessary.
Figure 2 shows this interface. In Lauren’s answer shown in figure 1, PepiDiag was successful when diagnosing: incorrect treatment, correct uses of letters, unsuitable use of brackets leading to correct result, correct translation from natural language to algebraic expression, explanation through algebra. The teacher can modify the coding if necessary. Figure 3, 4 and 5 shows a student’s profile with the three descriptions instantiated with Lauren’s profiles.
Figure 1 : Lauren’s answer to an exercise in PepiTest
Figure 2 : PepiProf teachers' coding interface with the six dimensions of the diagnosis
Figure 3 : Lauren's cognitive profile, quantitative description
Figure 4 : Laurens’ cognitive profile, the qualitative description
Figure 5 : Lauren’s cognitive profile, the diagram of flexibility between representations
The Lingot project: overview | The Pépite project | The first Pépite software | Uses of the first Pepite software |
Current work | Publications (in English) | Contributors & Acknowlegment | References |
We have observed uses of Pépite in different contexts.
Informal testing in lab: we have tested PepiTest in lab, videotaping one student. | |
Large scale individual testing : two hundred students from French secondary schools (grade 9 or 10) had the test. | |
Educational research : educational researchers used Pépite for educational studies in order to identify patterns of regularities in the 200 students’ profiles. | |
Worshops : Pépite has been used in workshops by educational researchers or teachers trainers. | |
Teachers training and development : It had been used in teachers training sessions by pre-service teachers or by experimented teachers in professional development programs. | |
Pilot studies : Two pilot studies have been led with volunteer experienced teachers. | |
Feedback from users : Finally some teachers told us about using Pépite without any observer. |
Table 1 synthesize these contexts.
Context |
Situation |
Users |
Number |
Data collected |
Testing students |
classrooms |
students |
200 |
Students’ answers Questionnaire Observations Research Reports |
Educational research |
Detecting regularities in students’ profiles |
researchers |
3 |
List of usability problems, of bugs |
Teachers trainers development |
Studying one student |
Teachers trainers |
40 |
List of tradeoffs Questionnaires |
Teachers training |
Studying one student, studying algebraic competencies |
Pre-service and in service teachers |
100 |
Questionnaire Observations |
Pilot session |
Classroom (Individual support and performance appraisal) |
teachers |
3 |
Observations reports |
Spontaneous uses |
Classroom |
teachers |
9 |
report |
Table 1 : different contexts of use for Pepite 1
The Lingot project: overview | The Pépite project | The first Pépite software | Uses of the first Pepite software |
Current work | Publications (in English) | Contributors & Acknowlegment | References |
on defining several scenarios of diagnosing situations for several types of users in different contexts; | |
on modelling exercices and diagnostic methods in order to generate patterns of tests that could be adapted by teachers; | |
on studying the feedback to students; | |
on defining classes of cognitive profiles and teaching strategies related to each class of profile; | |
on designing software to train students on special skills |
The Lingot project: overview | The Pépite project | The first Pépite software | Uses of the first Pepite software |
Current work | Publications (in English) | Contributors & Acknowlegment | References |
E. Delozanne, D. Prévit, B. Grugeon, P. Jacoboni (2003) Supporting teachers when diagnosing their students in algebra, in É. Delozanne, K. Stacey (eds), Workshop Advanced Technologies for Mathematics Education, Proceedings of Artificial Intelligence in Education, Sydney, July 2003, IOS Press, Amsterdam, 461-470.
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Dorothée Rasseneur, Elisabeth Delozanne, Pierre Jacoboni et Brigitte Grugeon, Learning with virtual agents: Competition and Cooperation in AMICO, Actes du colloque ITS’2002, Biarritz, juin 2002.
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Michèle Artigue, Teresa Assude, Brigitte Grugeon, Agnès Lenfant, Teaching and Learning Algebra : approaching complexity trough complementary perspectives, In Helen Chick, Kaye Stacey, Jill Vincent et John Vincent (Eds), The future of the Teaching and Learning of Algebra, Proceedings of 12 th ICMI Study Conference, The University of Melbourne, Australia, December 9-14, 2001
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Élisabeth Delozanne, Brigitte Grugeon : Pepite: software to help teachers diagnose students’ algebra competencies, The future of the Teaching and Learning of Algebra, Individual presentation, ICMI Study Conference, The University of Melbourne, Australia, December 9-14, 2001 http://www.edfac.unimelb.edu.au/DSME/icmialgebra/PPTPresentationIndex.html#Individual | |||||
Élisabeth Delozanne, Pierre Jacoboni, Stéphanie Jean et Brigitte Grugeon, Assessing Students' Competence in Algebra, Workshop "Learning Algebra with the Computer, a transdisciplinary Workshop”, ITS 2000, Montreal, June 2000. | |||||
Stéphanie JEAN, Élisabeth DELOZANNE, Pierre JACOBONI et Brigitte GRUGEON, A Diagnosis Based on a Qualitative Model of Competence in Elementary Algebra, S. Lajoie & M. Vivet eds, Proceedings of Artificial Intelligence in Education, Le Mans July 99, IOS Press, Amsterdam, p. 491-498, 1999 | |||||
Stéphanie Jean, Élisabeth Delozanne, Pierre Jacoboni et Brigitte Grugeon, Design and Validation of a Model based Diagnosis System, in P. Brna, M. Baker and K. Stenning “Roles of Communicative Interaction in Learning to Model in Mathematics and Science”, C-LEMMAS, Corsica, 15^{th} – 18^{th} April 1999. | |||||
Stéphanie Jean, Élisabeth Delozanne, Pierre Jacoboni et Brigitte Grugeon, Cognitive profile in elementary algebra: the PÉPITE test interface, IFIP TC-3 Official Journal “ Education and Information Technology ”, special issue, 1998. |
The Lingot project: overview | The Pépite project | The first Pépite software | Uses of the first Pepite software |
Current work | Publications (in English) | Contributors & Acknowlegment | References |
LIUM (Université du Maine) : Elisabeth Delozanne, Pierre Jacoboni, Stéphanie Jean, Dominique Prévit, Pascal Leroux
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Didirem (Université Paris 7) : Brigitte Grugeon, Michéle Artigue, Lalina Coulange, Caroline Bardini, Jean-Michel Gélis, Françoise Chenevotot
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Laboratoire Cognition & Activités Finalisées (Université Paris 8 et CNRS) : Jeanine Rogalski
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équipe STICE, IUFM de Créteil : Elisabeth Delozanne, Lalina Coulange, Sylvie Normand, Jean-François Chesné, Françoise Delzongle, Marie-Christine Marillier | |||
IUFM d'Amiens : Brigitte Grugeon | |||
Equipe SASO, Université de Picardie : Dominique Leclet, Valérie Larue | |||
CRIP5
(Université Paris 5) : Elisabeth Delozanne, Jean-Claude
Péna |
This research has been funded by
the "Programme Cognitique, école et sciences cognitives", Ministère de la Recherche et de la technologie, France | |
the Conseil Régional de la région Picardie | |
the research departments from the different contributors : LIUM (Université du Maine), Didirem (Université Paris 7), Laboratoire Cognition & Activités Finalisées (Université Paris 8 et CNRS), équipe STICE, IUFM de Créteil, IUFM d'Amiens, Equipe SASO, Université de Picardie, CRIP5 (Université Paris 5), AIDA (équipe projet du RTP 39 du CNRS) |
Teachers trainers from IUFM of Creteil and mathematiques teachers are
acknowledged for testing Pépite with their classes.
The Lingot project: overview | The Pépite project | The first Pépite software | Uses of the first Pepite software |
Current work | Publications (in English) | Contributors & Acknowlegment | References |
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