Tracking and supporting learning in open-ended activities involving a virtual lab simulation

CHED 344

David J. Yaron1, Michael Karabinos1, Alexander Borek1, Bruce McLaren2, Karen L. Evans3, and Gaea Leinhardt4. (1) Department of Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University, 4400 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, (2) Human Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, (3) Department of Education, Murcyhurst College, Erie, PA 16546, (4) Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
The ChemCollective virtual lab ( is an open-ended learning environment in which students design and carry out their own experiments. The software is instrumented to collect a log of all student actions. By embedding the virtual labs in a course management system that tracks interactions with videos, tutors and assessments ( a fairly complete record of the students' interactions with an online learning module may be collected. We will discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with collection and analysis of such data. The messages generated by the logging system may also be sent to a tutoring system ( that provides feedback to students as they work through open-ended activities. This system allows for creation of study conditions that vary the level of support from direct instruction to various modes of guided inquiry. Results from initial studies using this system will be presented.