Every summer, the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) runs an online chemistry course for incoming first year students. The course is designed to put everyone on a level playing field. To help students learn chemistry online, we developed a virtual study assistant to complement the online chemistry course.
In collaboration with the professors and researchers from SIT, we reviewed the different course chapters and developed a hierarchical structure of hints to match the evaluation questions at the end of each chapter. The first hints are more generic, while the second and third hints are more specific to the question.
We also added the answers to 100+ frequently asked questions that cover more generic chemistry content, such as explaining Avogadro’s Constant, the formula for calculating moles, and the definition of enthalpy or entropy.
During the user research phase, 57% of the students indicated that they found the chatbot useful in answering questions. They commented that the chatbot is convenient to use and that having a conversation with a bot is more engaging and interactive than simply googling a question.
56% of students also expressed that they would prefer an imperfect chatbot that’s available 24/7 than an instructor available for a limited period of time.
As part of a larger research project from SIT, we’ll continue optimizing the bot and their team of professors and researchers will continue investigating the impact of a human tutor vs. a virtual tutor on course completion rates. If you’re interested in learning more about SIT’s research, you can read the full research paper here.
OF STUDENTS FOUND THE CHATBOT USEFUL IN ANSWERING QUESTIONS
OF STUDENTS PREFER A CHATBOT THAT’S AVAILABLE 24/7 TO AN INSTRUCTOR AVAILABLE FOR A LIMITED PERIOD OF TIME