Using Artificial Intelligence to Accelerate Student Mastery of Effective Interpersonal Communication and Conflict Resolution Strategies
Jennifer L. Frank, Ph.D.
Deborah Schussler, Ed.D.
Funding Provided By:
Penn State's Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL)
The purpose of this project is to help teacher candidates effectively respond to classroom bullying by engaging in a virtual role-play that simulates a conversation with a student who may have been bullied.
Although teachers can play a critical role in stopping bullying-related violence, teachers report they are reluctant to become involved for fear of “making the situation worse”. Traditional classroom-based pedagogy used to teach these skills (i.e. modeling & role-play) has proved inadequate and often inaccessible for pre-teachers in distance education.
Recent advances in Artificial Intelligence have resulted in the development of animated pedagogical agents designed to simulate intelligent, authentic conversations. If effective, this technology could be expanded to accommodate a variety of simulations including discussions between teachers, parents, and bullies. Virtual role-play also may be appropriate for other professions where effective communication is critical—social work, counseling, youth services.
Major Research Questions:
Do pre-service teachers who engage in pedagogical agent simulations demonstrate higher levels of self-efficacy in their ability to respond effectively to bullying?
Do pre-service teachers who participate in pedagogical agent simulations demonstrate significantly better communication skills?
Do pre-service teachers find use of pedagogical agents acceptable or socially valid?
We hypothesize that the repeated practice in simulated conversations will increase teacher candidate self-efficacy and skill in responding to classroom bullying.
“Using Artificial Intelligence to Accelerate Student Mastery of Effective Interpersonal Communication and Conflict Resolution Strategies” is made possible by a COIL Research Innovation Grant. COIL is Penn State’s Center for Online Innovation in Learning, which strives to “guide the transformation of teaching and learning processes by supporting researchers who invent, investigate, and implement the effects of technologically enhanced learning environments” through research, publications, and campus events.
More information about COIL, ongoing research and upcoming events may be found on the center’s webpage, http://coil.psu.edu