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Operationalizing and Detecting Disengagement within Online Science Microworlds

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Educational Psychologist Volume 50, Number 1, ISSN 0046-1520


In recent years, there has been increased interest in engagement during learning. This is of particular interest in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics domains, in which many students struggle and where the United States needs skilled workers. This article lays out some issues important for framing research on this topic and provides a review of some existing work with similar goals on engagement in science learning. Specifically, here we seek to help better concretize engagement, a fuzzy construct, by operationalizing and detecting (i.e., identifying using a computational method) "disengaged behaviors" that are antithetical to engagement. We, in turn, describe our real-time detector (i.e., machine learned model) of disengaged behavior and how it was developed. Last, we address our ongoing research on how our detector of disengaged behavior will be used to intervene in real time to better support students' science inquiry learning in Inq-ITS (Inquiry-Intelligent Tutoring System; Gobert, Sao Pedro, Baker, Toto, & Montalvo, 2012; Gobert, Sao Pedro, Raziuddin, & Baker, 2013).


Gobert, J.D., Baker, R.S. & Wixon, M.B. (2015). Operationalizing and Detecting Disengagement within Online Science Microworlds. Educational Psychologist, 50(1), 43-57. Retrieved February 28, 2021 from .

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