1 University of Minho (PORTUGAL)
2 University of Manchester (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 2126-2130
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Addressing generally poor performances by Maths students, we are developing an online educational software – based on self-regulation theory – , consisting of a virtual tutor and three-dimensional visualizations, directed at 4th graders. It is not our intention to replace the teacher, quite the opposite, as he plays a crucial role during the whole process.

The software will allow the student to learn, develop and consolidate the concepts presented in class, by allowing him to, in real time, as the task is being performed, understand his mistakes, through the virtual tutor's intervention. This digital agent will follow all the student´s steps in the background, appearing only when necessary in diverse and playful ways.

To this purpose we raised the following questions:
1) In what way does the use of a virtual tutor in the classroom (online education software including a digital agent) influence students' results on the subject of GM4 ( Geometry and Measures 4)
2) Does the use of this virtual tutor promote self-regulation in students?
3) Does the use of this virtual tutor promote increased motivation amongst students in this area of mathematics?
4) Should it be useful and feasible to provide teachers with an individual record (online database) showing the student's learning curve? (missteps and achievements).
5) Do the ''teaching machines'' (Cf. Benjamin, 1988; Moeglin, 1993) envisioned nowadays, under new assumptions, support the learning process?

In order to validate the educational value of this software we verified the strategies for problem-solving. The tutor presents, as the principal creative innovation, a self-regulation of errors, given that students frequently make mistakes, both in interpreting the enunciation and in the execution of a task. In the computer screen, through the browser (this is an online system) the software presents a balloon identifying the mistake, explaining it, and suggesting a solution. The students will thus have the opportunity to self-regulate as they are made aware of their mistakes and are able to understand why these occur.

At the same time, the teacher has access to a record of tasks attempted by the student and in consequence to the mistakes performed by each individual, as the software incorporates a database where each student is identified on a file to which the teacher has password-protected access, which file contains a history of the pupil's most frequent mistakes.

Our digital agent operates through any browser and in any machine, specifically, personal computers, tablets and smartphones.
In terms of methods, this work classes as experimental development (Van Der Maren, 1996; Van den Akker,1999).

It falls under the designation of experimental development as one of the independent variables (the software) is manipulated in order to understand its effects on the dependent variable (students' results).

Sampling is non-probabilistic, as we have already ensured access to the required number of classes, presenting varying characteristics and under both regimens of public and privately-run schools. Subjects will be the students from ten classes (5 from each regimen) in the 4th year of primary schooling, as well as their teachers.

Concerning the expected results: we expect to promote self-regulation amongst students; to promote academic success in mastering the syllabus; an increase in motivation for students to learn mathematics; increased student proficiency.
Educational software for Mathematics, Virtual Tutor, Self-Regulation, Motivation.