The Teachable Agents Group at Vanderbilt University
 Vanderbilt University | School of Engineering: EECS | ISIS

Temporal Reasoning

The goal of this research is to improve Betty's Brain in a way that helps middle school students learn and understand the behavior of dynamic processes.

Analyzing dynamic systems behavior can be very challenging for middle school students who do not have the relevant mathematical background or maturity. To overcome this, we have to develop intuitive approaches based on simplified, qualitative representations that capture the notion of change over time, hide complex details, but are still accurate enough to replicate the behavior of a real world system. For this purpose, we introduce the notion of cycles to model changes in time in the concept map representation. We add temporal reasoning to Betty's existing qualitative reasoning and change the explanation mechanism to reflect this reasoning process. This allows her to answer questions like, "If there is a large increase in fish, what happens to algae in a month?" Betty has no knowledge about the entities and temporal effects among entities in the river ecosystem. It is the responsibility of students to learn and teach Betty this knowledge. Students can teach Betty temporal knowledge by identifying the cycles and their running time in the concept map. Then, they can use "Query" and "Quiz" to receive feedback and check how well they taught Betty. After asking Betty a question and getting her answer, students can use "Explain" to understand Betty's reasoning process. Thus, students can acquire the knowledge about the behavior of dynamic process through teaching and learning from Betty.