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Adaptive Personalization of Pedagogical Sequences using Machine Learning

Benjamin Clément 1
1 Flowers - Flowing Epigenetic Robots and Systems
Inria Bordeaux - Sud-Ouest, U2IS - Unité d'Informatique et d'Ingénierie des Systèmes
Abstract : Can computers teach people? To answer this question, Intelligent Tutoring Systems are a rapidly expanding field of research among the Information and Communication Technologies for the Education community. This subject brings together different issues and researchers from various fields, such as psychology, didactics, neurosciences and, particularly, machine learning. Digital technologies are becoming more and more a part of everyday life with the development of tablets and smartphones. It seems natural to consider using these technologies for educational purposes. This raises several questions, such as how to make user interfaces accessible to everyone, how to make educational content motivating and how to customize it to individual learners. In this PhD, we developed methods, grouped in the aptly-named HMABITS framework, to adapt pedagogical activity sequences based on learners' performances and preferences to maximize their learning speed and motivation. These methods use computational models of intrinsic motivation and curiosity-driven learning to identify the activities providing the highest learning progress and use Multi-Armed Bandit algorithms to manage the exploration/exploitation trade-off inside the activity space. Activities of optimal interest are thus privileged with the target to keep the learner in a state of Flow or in his or her Zone of Proximal Development. Moreover, some of our methods allow the student to make choices about contextual features or pedagogical content, which is a vector of self-determination and motivation. To evaluate the effectiveness and relevance of our algorithms, we carried out several types of experiments. We first evaluated these methods with numerical simulations before applying them to real teaching conditions. To do this, we developed multiple models of learners, since a single model never exactly replicates the behavior of a real learner. The simulation results show the HMABITS framework achieves comparable, and in some cases better, learning results than an optimal solution or an expert sequence. We then developed our own pedagogical scenario and serious game to test our algorithms in classrooms with real students. We developed a game on the theme of number decomposition, through the manipulation of money, for children aged 6 to 8. We then worked with the educational institutions and several schools in the Bordeaux school district. Overall, about 1000 students participated in trial lessons using the tablet application. The results of the real-world studies show that the HMABITS framework allows the students to do more diverse and difficult activities, to achieve better learning and to be more motivated than with an Expert Sequence. The results show that this effect is even greater when the students have the possibility to make choices.
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Benjamin Clément. Adaptive Personalization of Pedagogical Sequences using Machine Learning. Artificial Intelligence [cs.AI]. Université de Bordeaux, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018BORD0373⟩. ⟨tel-01968241v2⟩

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