Carole R. Beal, University of Southern California
Abstract: The goal of the AnimalWatch project is to develop a web-based intelligent tutoring system for supplemental instruction in arithmetic and pre-algebra topics (Grade 6), and to assess the impact on students' mathematics conceptual understanding, achievement, and mathematics motivation. The pedagogical strategy is to integrate mathematics with authentic content about environmental science, specifically, narratives about endangered species, including the Giant Panda, the North Atlantic Right Whale, the Mongolian Wild Horse, and the California Condor. In the tutoring system, students complete word problems involving realistic information about these species and can request multimedia scaffolding that emphasizes either concrete strategies (e.g., virtual manipulatives) or algorithmic approaches. Problem selection is based on a pedagogical model that considers student cognitive skills (prior achievement, spatial cognition, and math fact proficiency) as well as motivation (math self concept, liking of math, and belief that math is important to study). Evaluaton studies of the initial system will be conducted in Summer 2006 in several middle schools in the Los Angeles area serving diverse student populations.