New tutoring program using AI to help kids learn

PITTSBURGH — A new tutoring program being developed by Carnegie Mellon University and the Center for Urban Education at the University of Pittsburgh may help students once they are back in the classroom.

Mentors were paired with the new artificial intelligence software in several school systems in our area, including Pittsburgh Public Schools.

The mentoring program, called Ready to Learn, was created by Pitt and is being used to test the effectiveness of the new technology, which was developed by CMU.

Pitt rising junior Damilola Ayoola was one of the mentors working with middle school kids at Westinghouse Academy. She meets with them individually twice a week, after the kids do math problems on the computer.

“That’s why the one-on-one sessions are important, so you can see basically how the student thinks and you see what methods, what do they get frustrated with,” Ayoola said.

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Their learning is then tracked by PL2, the new AI tutoring system .

“The system is creating this very detailed statistical map of how the student is doing, how they’re learning, how they’re progressing through the material," said Lee Branstetter, professor of economics and public policy at CMU.

Their learning is then tracked by the AI tutoring system. The system can adapt, in real time, to challenge kids with new problems at their level and then make suggestions to mentors on how to help them continue to grow.

CMU said the program was very promising, based on how the students were doing before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“We have found that with this kind of technology, students can make progress at least twice the rate than they usually do in mathematics,” said Ken Koedinger, Hillman professor of computer science at CMU.

CMU said the program is aimed at addressing an imbalance between growing demand for high-level jobs and the struggle for schools to keep up with demand.