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National Center for Education Research


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An Interactive Social Tutoring System to Improve and Measure Social Goals for Students Related to Academic and Other School-Related Outcomes

Year: 2011
Name of Institution:
3-C Institute for Social Development
Principal Investigator:
DeRosier, Melissa
Award Amount: $849,989
Award Period: 2 years

Description:

Product Video Demonstration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vfyax3F3_ck

Purpose: Elementary school is a time of growth and development in students' social skills and peer relations. Prior research shows that students who are able to establish and maintain positive peer relations are more successful in school (including higher levels of achievement) and better able to cope with stressful life events. In contrast, students who have difficulty navigating the socio-developmental shifts of elementary school are substantially more likely to experience academic failure, behavioral problems, and emotional difficulties. The purpose of this project is to develop a cost-effective, time-efficient, and engaging product to measure students' progress toward improved social literacy.

Project Activities: In Phase I, key product components (e.g., software engine, user interface, speech capabilities, avatar builder, and performance tracking) were prototyped and researched to demonstrate feasibility of implementation in school settings. In Phase II, the researchers will refine the key components, further design six instructional social problem-solving units, and design teacher support materials. After development is complete, a pilot study will be conducted to assess the feasibility, usability, and the promise of the technology for promoting students' social skills and reducing negative behaviors. Data will be collected from approximately 300 students in 12 classrooms over 2 months. Half of the classrooms will use the product to supplement standard classroom instruction while the other half will continue with normal practices. Teacher and student measures will be collected before and after implementation.

Product: Zoo U will be a web-based product through which elementary students will engage with pedagogical agents (animated life-like characters) to solve tailored, social problem solving tasks. Zoo U will target core social skills through six units, including: cooperation, communication, emotion regulation, empathy, impulse control, and initiation of play. Each unit will include six tasks with each containing three variations (low, medium, high) for a total of 108 social scenarios. The Zoo U product will be used by single or groups of students. It will provide self-paced learning for individualized instruction, student progress reports, and implementation supports for teachers.

Product Video Demonstration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vfyax3F3_ck