Computing Education Research & Evolutionary Algorithm Lab awarded $377,012 NSF grant

September 11, 2020


The USF Computing Education Research & Evolutionary Algorithm Lab (CEREAL) has been awarded an NSF grant from the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program to further study how evolutionary principles may be leveraged to improve teaching & learning. CSE Associate Professor Alessio Gaspar is the PI, and Assistant Professor Paul Wiegand from Winthrop University is the co-PI. Gaspar will be focusing on evolving MCQs distractors while Wiegand will be working on the dashboard allowing instructors to analyze their students' progress and perform data mining on the data collected. 

The project, conducted in partnership with UCF, will extend previous results that enabled us to evolve puzzles for novice programmers. This follow-up project aims at enabling learners and evolutionary algorithms to collaborate together to generate multiple-choice questions (MCQ) that identify the actual misconceptions hindering a group of students. To this end, an instructor dashboard will also help visualize these MCQ in terms of their informativeness with respect to students’ performance (see illustration). 

The resulting approach is applicable to any STEM course in which MCQ are relevant, regardless of level or even topic. It will also support an asynchronous form of peer instruction that brings the benefits of this pedagogy to online courses in which students and instructors do not meet “live”.