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Rutgers GSE Professor Develops Cutting Edge Educational Technology to Revolutionize Classroom Teaching and Assessment of Science

Feb 22, 2017 by

(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – 2/22/2017) Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE) professor, Dr. Janice Gobert and her team, this month, patented technology called Inq-Blotter to revolutionize classroom teaching and learning in science. It works alongside Inq-ITS (Inquiry Intelligent Tutoring System), an assessment and learning platform for students where kids “show what they know” by forming hypotheses and questions, testing them, interpreting data, and generating explanations of their findings. Inq-Blotter, a teacher dashboard, gives educators real-time, actionable reports and alerts on their mobile device, enabling them to pinpoint which students need help, and what science skills they need help with. Data from Inq-Blotter helps teachers understand patterns of learning difficulties in their classes, and can identify when s/he should stop the class to remediate instruction if many students are struggling with the same issue. It also enables teachers to engage their students in rich scientific discourse exactly when their students encounter problems during learning.

According to Gobert, automated, rigorous learning and assessment systems like Inq-ITS and Inq-Blotter are critical for teachers and students if the Next Generation Science Standards are to be fully realized at scale.  Typical assessment data are neither timely nor adequate for teachers to understand students’ needs so that they can tailor instruction to their students. According to Gobert, when relying on written lab reports for assessment, as many teachers do, up to 50% of students can be mis-assessed, because students who are really skilled at science may not be good at describing what they know in words. These students, despite their skills and knowledge, might not get accepted into science majors at universities and, in turn, won’t fill the many science, technology, engineering, and math jobs needed for our economy. Conversely, students who may not have a deep understanding of science, but who are good at simply parroting back what they have read may not get the help they need to develop a comprehensive understanding of science.  These students will be woefully unprepared for high school, and college.

“I am passionate about finding scalable, technological solutions to problems that science teachers and students face in the classroom”, states Gobert, “The Next Generation Science Standards provides a great framework for what students need to know. Inq-Blotter’s reports and alerts can help teachers’ assessment and instruction goals aligned with these Next Generation Science Standards, and Inq-ITS’ real time tutoring can supplement this so that students can acquire the science knowledge and skills necessary for 21st century jobs. I initiated this work in 2007 and my vision is for technology to revolutionize both teachers’ instruction by providing them rigorous, actionable data, and students’ learning so that they can learn science and pursue careers in science and technology.”

Inq-ITS has been a successful tool in classrooms in grades 5 through 9 and is being used in 11 states at present; Inq-ITS and Inq-Blotter are also now being distributed in The Netherlands and Belgium. Teachers who have had the opportunity to work with Inq-Blotter love it.

 

Pam Perry, a teacher at Bellingham Middle School from Bellingham Massachusetts stated, “ [Inq-Blotter] made it clear to pinpoint who is having trouble. It tells me, ‘what areas’ they are having issues with and made it much faster to respond. I like having [Inq-Blotter] as it allows me to give [students] formative feedback.”

 

A student in Watertown, Massachusetts, who had the opportunity to use Inq-ITS shared, “I enjoyed using Inq-ITS. I thought that it was good and I liked that it let me work at my own pace. It made making a hypothesis fun and easy. It also made the experiment fun.”

In the future, Gobert plans to extend Inq-ITS and Inq-Blotter to support all high school science. Inq-ITS and Inq-Blotter are funded by the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Education, and are being productized by Apprendis, a company Gobert co-founded with two of her former graduate students, Mike Sao Pedro and Cameron Betts.

Since 1923, Rutgers Graduate School of Education has been a national leader in preparing educators, researchers, and leaders who create effective and equitable learning opportunities for diverse learners.

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