Collaborative Support Tools for Engineering Problem Solving

Support teaching assistants as they facilitate collaborative activities during undergraduate engineering courses.
Research assistant & designer
A second iteration of the CSTEPS software was created using feedback and findings from the first iteration. This iteration included revised visualizations and machine learning models built from student data that provide teaching assistants with prompts in the moment to support specific collaborative behaviors of groups.
Lawrence, L. (2020). The design process of a collaborative orchestration tool and its implications for instructor uptake. [Doctoral dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.  [pdf]
Mercier, E., Paquette, L., Bosch, N., Lawrence, L., & Shehab, S. (2020). The development and implementation of an orchestration tool based on live action log data. Paper accepted at the American Educational Research Association, San Fransisco, CA, USA, April 17-21, 2020. Accepted, by cancelled due to COVID-19.
Shehab, S., Lawrence, L., Livingston, L., Margotta, A., & Mercier, E. (2020). Towards the effective implementation of collaborative problem solving in undergraduate engineering classrooms: Co-designing guidelines for teaching assistants. Paper accepted to the American Society for Engineering Education, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, June 21-24, 2020.  [link]  [pdf]
Lawrence, L. & Mercier, E. (2019). Co-design of an orchestration tool: Supporting engineering teaching assistants as they facilitate collaborative learning. Interaction Design and Architecture(s) Journal, (42), 111- 130.  [link]  [pdf]

Lawrence, L., Shehab, S., Livingston, L., & Margotta, A. (2019). Collaborative teaching sequence: A guide for teachers. CoLearnLab Resources. www.colearnlab.org/resources

Lawrence, L. & Shehab, S. (2019). Integrating technology to support teachers’ monitoring and intervention strategies during collaborative activities. Paper presented at the Graduate Student Conference, Champaign, IL, March 8, 2019.

Lawrence, L. & Mercier, E. (2017). Designing visualizations to monitor collaboration in engineering discussion sessions. In Vogel, C. & Muratovski, G. (Eds.), Re: Research. Cincinnati, OH: International Association of Societies of Design Research.  [poster]

In the first iteration of this software, we learned that the technology provided teaching assistants with information about the students, but it was challenging for them to make inferences in real time and translate them into actions that supported students’ collaboration. Therefore, this version used machine learning models, created from students’ coded collaborative behaviors and their actions on the tablets, to provide in the moment prompts for teaching assistants.
The software was created through a year long design process, which will be studied and reported on in my dissertation. This iteration removes the visualizations about the students’ and groups’ contribution but keeps the student location and functionality to join the groups of students in their worksheet. Prompts were added to help teaching assistants identify what collaborative interactions they should monitor for and tips to intervene with the groups.
The students used the synchronized software for the entire semester, and the teaching assistants were introduced to the software half way through the semester and used it for five weeks.

Learn more on this project at: 



LuEttaMae Lawrence, Ph.D.

luemlawrence [at] gmail.com

llawrenc [at] andrew.cmu.edu

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