ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN THE CLASSROOM

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Jul 17, 2012 (5 years and 1 month ago)

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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN T H E C L A S S R O O M
Wynne
Bedford College of Higher
ABSTRACT
Various teaching st rat egi es have been
employed in attempti ng to overcome the
d i f f i c u l t i e s experienced by student s l earni ng
computer programming on courses hel d at the
Bedford College of Higher Education,England.
The problem remains unsol ved; the main
d i f f i c u l t y encountered l i e s in the development of
the al gor i t hm, not in the syntax or semantics of
the language. The cont r i but i on gained by the use
of f l owchart s has been negl i gi bl e; the major
c o n t r i b u t i o n came from al l owi ng the student s to
work in groups.
The essay f ol l ows the argument t hat,
accepti ng the premise that programming requi res
l o g i c a l t h i n k i n g , a sol ut i on to t h i s problem may
be forthcomi ng if it is tackl ed by hel pi ng these
student s to develop problem sol vi ng s k i l l s from an
earl y age; thereby pl aci ng the onus on the
school teacher.
Use of educati onal t ool s, namely BIGTRAK,
i n i t i a l l y for the very young, fol l owed by the
TURTLE wi t h L O G O programming, and l a t t e r l y
mi croProl og i s advocated.
The paper is i ntroduced by a bri ef
discourse on the concept of knowledge, in order to
confi r m that to teach t hi nki ng is d i f f i c u l t , and
hence t h a t there is a r o l e f o r some aspect of
a r t i f i c i a l i nt el l i genc e in the classroom.
By d e f i n i t i o n , a teacher's rol e in the
classroom must be that of one who teaches,
i mparti ng knowledge and gui di ng the studi es of the
pupi l s. But, the concept of knowledge i s
d i f f i c u l t to defi ne and cannot be determined
preci sel y in the way that some words can. In
attempti ng to defi ne the const i t uent s of the
concept of knowledge, vari ous noti ons can be
consi dered, for example: i nf or mat i on, i nst r uct i on,
enl i ghtenment, l ear ni ng, or pr act i cal s k i l l s .
Attempt s have been made to break knowledge
i nt o di vi si ons, Hi rst,(1973) put forwar d the
suggestion that knowledge was separabl e i nt o
d i s t i n c t forms, such as mathematics, physi cal
sciences et c. But, if these forms are accepted
then the concept of a par t i cul ar branch of
Bel l
Educati on, Bedford, UK.
knowledge m a y even d i f f e r , depending on how it is
presented. Polya,(1973) st at es, "Mathematics
presented in the Euclidean way appears as a
systemati c deductive sci ence, but mathematics i n
the making appears as an experimental i nduct i ve
sci ence."
The view that the four ways of thought:
l o g i c a l , empi r i cal, moral, and aestheti c represent
more fundamental di vi si ons of knowledge,
Phi l i ps,(1971) perhaps rel at es more cl osel y to the
aim of i ncl udi ng more of the cogni t i ve aspects of
teachi ng i n the classroom.
While the cl ai m that knowledge is worthwhi l e
on i t s own account, simpl y for the development of
the mi nd, can be appreci at ed, as Cri bbl e (1969)
argues, forms of d r i l l are not i n t r i n s i c a l l y
wort hwhi l e. And whi l e t hi s form of teachi ng
perhaps cannot ent i r el y be dispensed wi t h, the
questi on often ari ses r e l a t i n g to whether teachers
act ual l y teach chi l dren to t hi nk, i . e . to develop
t hei r a b i l i t y for reasoni ng, experi menti ng, making
moral r e f l e c t i o n , or to achieve an appreci at i on of
aestheti c pr i nci pl es. The knowledge that i s
planted i n a chi l d has to be brought i nt o act i on.
Landa (1979) consider s t h a t some teachers do
teach c h i l d r e n to t h i n k but t h a t some do n o t . He
admits that to teach t hi nki ng i s a problem,
because the operati ons that have to be carri ed out
on the knowledge present in the st udent's head, in
order to be abl e to problem solve are not wel l
developed.
The assert i on that organised teachi ng is not
requi red for l earni ng to take pl ace, i s hel d by
Papert (1980), who puts forwar d the analogy of how
a chi l d learns to t a l k .
The d i f f i c u l t y of teachi ng chi l dr en to thi nk
then is evi dent, and whi l e the computer can be a
cat al ysi ng agent for promoting a d i f f e r e n t type of
teachi ng to take place i n the cl assroom, to-dat e
the methods employed in comput er-ai ded-l earni ng,
have on the whol e, cont ri but ed l i t t l e to f urt her
the pursui t t o hel p chi l dr en t o t hi nk.
Computer-aided l earni ng techniques employed i n
school s general l y f ol l ow the t r a d i t i o n a l method of
classroom t eachi ng, and if a c h i l d ' s development
p a r t i a l l y depends on t h i s t r a d i t i o n a l approach to
t eachi ng, then present computer-ai ded-l earni n g
does seem to provide mot i vat i on and have a novel t y
val ue, a l b e i t , possi bl y a temporary i nnovat i on.
88 W. Bell
But,Paper f s (1980) associ at i on of t h i s use of a
computer for d r i l l and practi ce,(combi ne d wi t h the
use of the BASIC l anguage), wi t h that of the
Q W E R T Y keyboard, exempl i fi es the dangers imminent
when t r a d i t i o n takes a f i r m hol d, and the ensuing
d i f f i c u l t y encountered when endeavouring to bri ng
about any change; in t hi s case in the way that
computers are used in the cl assroom.
I n t e l l i g e n t t ut or i ng systems cater for the
student more adequatel y, and ai d research i nt o
l ear ni ng, but are r ar el y found i n school s. Also
a r t i f i c i a l i nt el l i genc e programs which deal wi t h
aspects of human behaviour designed to simulat e
behaviour hel p to i l l u m i n a t e how c h i l d r e n t h i n k .
In the cl assroom, a simpl e machine in the form
of a toy tank, BIGTRAK, can be used by primary and
i nf ant teacher s for mathematics teachi ng and to
i nvol ve the chi l dr en i n l ogi cal t hi nki ng, besides
provi di ng an i nt r oduct i o n to computer techni ques.
The tank can be programmed to move, t ur n, pause or
f i r e and the chi l dr en can t hi nk of t hei r own
problems and also how to solve them, and hence
program the tank. They of t en act as BIGTRAK
themselves i n f i ndi ng out the requi red movements,
then l o g i c a l l y assemble them to produce the
program of i nst r uct i ons, which i mpor t ant l y, they
r eal i se may not be correct at the f i r s t t r i a l .
Hence, t hi s toy enables a means of
pupi l - cont r ol l e d i nvest i gat i o n t o take pl ace,
besides provi di ng a by-product of i nt roduci ng
measurement and di r ect i o n to them. The guidance
of the teacher is r equi r ed, as wi thout t hi s i t s
value woul d di mi ni sh.
BIGTRAK then forms a medium for Papert's
i deas,(1980) al though a rather unrefi ned t ool i n
some respect s, l earni ng is achieved through i t s
use wi thout formal t eachi ng, and i t s advantage in
school s l i e s in i t s comparative cheapness.
The obj ect that Papert(1980) advocates for use
wi t h chi l dr en, the TURTLE, has a cost disadvantage
at present, but wi t h the i n f i l t r a t i o n of the
microcomputer in a l l school s in B r i t a i n , the
concept of i t , as an educati onal t ool in the
cl assroom, i s rapi dl y gai ni ng acceptance, even
though many school s have to be content wi t h
" t u r t l e " graphics on the screen, and it is
expected that the cost w i l l be l owered. But, even
wi t h " t u r t l e " graphi cs, the chi l d is in cont r ol
and observati ons show that they usual l y enact the
steps requi red t o solve t hei r par t i cul ar probl em.
The program language i ncorporat i ng the use of
the TURTLE, L O G O , evolved f o r a p p l i c a t i o n s by
chi l dren by Feurzei g et al.( 1969). The f u l l
versi on of L O G O provides addi t i onal f a c i l i t i e s to
the usual hi gh l evel language, for example, l i s t
processi ng and recursi ve f unct i ons. But, in many
school s in B r i t a i n onl y a subset of the language
i s i n use which r el at e onl y to cont r ol l i n g the
screen " t u r t l e " . Thi s reduces the amount of
storage requi red and the cost of the software.
Programs are al so wr i t t en in BASIC which can
provide a reasonabl y successful L O G O environment
in the cl assroom.
While many school teachers in B r i t a i n are j ust
beginning to be i ntroduced to the pot ent i al of the
use of L O G O as an educati onal t o o l , possi bl y
because it was devised for such a purpose, a
reasonabl e amount of research and eval uat i on has
been carri ed out.
Prel i mi nar y observati ons i n primary school s i n
Bedfordshi r e have reveal ed keen i nt er est by bot h
teachers and chi l dr en in i t s use. The teachers
have been impressed by the st rat egi c s k i l l s shown
by many of t h e i r p u p i l s .
In t hei r Eval uati on Study: Teaching
Mathematics through L O G O Programming,(Howe et a l .
1980), the concl usi on reached i s that the
understanding of mathematics by chi l dren who are
less abl e can be improved by such
programming-based a c t i v i t i e s .
An i n v e s t i g a t i o n i n t o the claims made f o r the
use of the TURTLE in the cl assroom, i n v o l v i n g 15
speci al school s si t uat ed over a wide area of
England and Wales terminates in Jul y 1983. The
research i s co-ordi nated by the Chi l t er n Advisor y
Uni t, Hat f i el d, England; the f i n a l eval uat i on
repor t shoul d hel p teacher s i n deci di ng the
c o n t r i b u t i o n that the TURTLE can make to the
development of chi l dr en.
While it has been shown that g i r l s general l y
do not achieve as high r esul t s as boys in computer
st udi es, the opi ni on i s emerging that they do
margi nal l y better than the boys when L O G O is used.
But, it is not onl y chi l dren who can benef i t
from u s i n g L O G O , du Boulay (1978) showed t h a t
student teachers who experienced d i f f i c u l t y wi t h
cer t ai n areas i n mathematics gained a better
understanding by w r i t i n g L O G O programs to
i nvest i gat e the t opi cs.
L O G O is used in B r i t i s h and American school s
and development s in France, to ascert ai n i t s
pot ent i al for use as an i n t r i n s i c part of t hei r
educati onal system, are taki ng pl ace.
PROLOG-PROgramming in LOGic, designed by
Colmerauer and colleagues in 1972, images human
reasoning and u t i l i s e s nat ural language. Papert
enthusi ast s support the use of P R O L O G for
chi l dr en; a close r el at i onshi p exi st s between L O G O
and P R O L O G .
P R O L O G is now being made avai l abl e f o r
microcomputer systems in the form of mi croProl og,
developed by Mc Cabe 1980. Rel at i vel y l i t t l e work
has been carri ed out on i t s use in the cl assroom,
but, a proj ect has been runni ng since October
1981, "Logi c as a Computer Language for Chi l dr en",
based at I mperi al Col l ege, London. Eval uati on is
being conducted in a number of school s and
col l eges, and courses are being hel d for teachers
in vari ous part s of England.
Thi s proj ect is l ed by Robert Kowalski who
consider s that mi croProl og cont ri but es t o
promoting l ogi cal t hi nki ng for use throughout the
W. Bell 89
school curri cul um and that it can stand as a
subject on i t s own. He considers that because it
is not t i ed to a par t i cul ar machine st r uct ur e, i t.
is more sui t abl e for use by chi l dren than
languages which are.(Ennel s,1983).
Ennels (1983) has expressed surpri se at the
quickness that chi l dren are l earni ng mi croProl og.
The pupi l s bui l d t hei r own database and formulat e
queri es, so promoting clear t hi nki ng and
expresssi on.
These then are some of the t o o l s that can be
used in assi st i ng teachers to teach chi l dren to
t h i n k ; many other micro-technology aids are
avai l abl e and although many are considered to be
simpl y computer t oys, an i nvest i gat i on i nt o t hei r
p o t e n t i a l use in the classroom m a y reveal t h a t
some are more than t o y s . "Computer toys come
closer to i mi t at i ng the st yl e of human
i nt el l i genc e than the teaching machines of the
past and may w e l l represent the educati onal wave
of the f u t u r e . " (Gardner,1979).
In concl usi on, the educati onal tool s suggested
for use in t hi s paper are mainl y j ust being
i ntroduced to school s i n the Bedfordshir e area,
hence it w i l l be some time before there can be any
evidence to show that the chi l dr en's capacit y for
clear t hi nki ng has improved and as a resul t the
d i f f i c u l t i e s experienced by the ones who may
eventual l y wish to include f urt her computer
programming as part, of t h e i r f u t u r e studies m a y be
lessened. Current research in t hi s area suggests
that t h i s w i l l be so.
REFERENCES
(1) Hi r st,P.H. ,Li ber al Education and the Nature of
Knowledge, in Pet ers,R.S.(Ed.). The Philosophy of
Educati on, Oxford Uni versi t y Press.(1973).
(2) Polya,G.,How to Solve I t . p.117, New
York:Doubleday,(1957).
(3) Phi l i ps,D.C.,The Di st i ngui shi ng Features of
Forms of Knowledge, in Educati on, Philosophy and
Theory. Vol.3,No.2.(1971).
(4) Gr i bbl e,J., An I nt roduct i on to the Philosophy
of Educati on. Al l yn & Baker. (1970).
(5) Landa,L., Al go-Heuri st i c Approach to Thi nki ng
and Learni ng: Does C A L Teach T h i n k i n g , in
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(1979).
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Powerful Ideas. Harvester Press. (1980).
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conceptual framework for teachi ng mathematics.
Report No. 1889. Bol t Beranek and Newman,
Cambridge, Massachusetts.
(8) Howe,J.A.M., 0'Shea,T., and Pl ane,F. Teaching
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Lewis/Tagg, eds. North-Hol l and Publ i shi ng
I FI P.(1980).
(9) du Boul ay,J.B.H., Learning Primary Mathematics
Through Computer Programming. Ph.D. Di sser t at i on,
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of Edinburgh. (1978).
(10) Ennels,R., Beginning micro-PROLOG. E l l i s
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(11) Gardner,H., Harvard Graduate School of
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