Inq-ITS is a learning platform with simulations for physical, life, and earth science, aligned with NGSS. Instead of doing multiple choice questions, students engage in inquiry with scientific phenomena in a dynamic, interactive manner, and run experiments: forming questions, collecting, and analyzing their data to address their claims, and communicate their findings. Inq-ITS utilizes complex, patented algorithms based on machine learning to assess students and generate real-time formative reports on both classroom-wide and individual student performance. Rex the dinosaur, a virtual inquiry coach, provides personalized help for students facing challenges as they conduct inquiry. Inq-Blotter is a mobile alert system that updates immediately and issues actionable alerts for teachers in real time, about which students are struggling on specific practices and their respective sub-components. This is used to differentiate classroom instruction, or provide support to individual students.
Inq-ITS is the first solution that provides real-time performance assessment for instructional practices using data-mined techniques that will permit scalable automatic assessment of the full complement of NGSS practices
Since conventional assessment techniques like lab reports depend on students’ writing skills, it is not always reflective of students’ knowledge. For example, a student proficient in science but lacking the ability to articulate his/her knowledge in writing will get a “false negative” assessment. Conversely, a student relying on rote learning to generate a lab report, without deep understanding will receive a “false positive” assessment. Due to lack of a system that accurately grades students based on their actual knowledge, many talented individuals will go unrecognized, which is problematic for an economy such as the U.S. that desperately needs STEM workers. The Inq-ITS team is now implementing natural language processing techniques into their platform to be used in conjunction with their existing data mining algorithms. This will provide the capacity for teacher alerts and Rex support when the student’s actions do not match what they wrote. “Inq- ITS is the first solution that provides real-time performance assessment for instructional practices using data-mined techniques that will permit scalable automatic assessment of the full complement of NGSS practices,” states Gobert. Inq-ITS is being utilized in 20 states across the U.S. as well as in Europe, and there are plans to expand the learning platform to cover both elementary and high school syllabi.