Cognitive Tutor Authoring Tools

The Cognitive Tutor Authoring Tools are a software suite used by researchers and teachers to create interactive, computer-based tutors for online courses. The goal of the project I worked on was to improve the geometry cognitive tutors by taking advantage of the contiguity principle and allow students to answer questions directly in the geometric diagrams themselves rather than in a traditional web-form of text fields alongside an image.

I worked as a research programmer with Professor Aleven and was responsible for designing, architecting, and managing the development team for an intuitive tool that would allow researchers and teachers to create, annotate, and manage semantically meaningful geometric diagrams. Several studies (see below) suggested that this new contiguous interface increased student performance and understanding. What I remember best was contending with my first multiple K-LOC legacy codebase while mentoring a very talented young programmer.


Selected studies:

  1. Contiguous Representations for Robust Learning (Aleven & Butcher, 2006)
  2. Using Elaborated Explanations to Support Geometry Learning (Aleven & Butcher, 2006-2007)
  3. Mapping Visual and Verbal Information: Integrated Hints in Geometry (Aleven & Butcher, 2007)


2006-2007, Collaborators: Vincent Aleven, Andy Tzou, Michael Nugent, Octav Popescu