Professor Dave Pritchard of MIT will speak on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 as part of the Symposium on Learning Analytics at Michigan (SLAM) lecture series. SLAM is designed to bring together those trying to study learning using data analysis with a wider community of experts in data mining and visualization. The intent is to spark conversation and collaborations, which will connect central questions of student success with the next generation tools able to address them. You can read about SLAM here and explore previous talks.

Professor Pritchard is a distinguished physicist and a National Academy member who has trained a couple of Nobel Laureates in his lab. He also invented the widely used ‘Mastering Physics’ online homework system, originally called MyCyberTutor. Over the last decade, the ‘Mastering’ platform has expanded to about a dozen disciplines and is used by more than a million students. The Department of Physics uses ‘Mastering Physics’ heavily in the introductory courses.

His current work investigates the use of web-based homework systems both to evaluate student knowledge and to construct intelligent tutors able to recognize weaknesses in student understanding and address them. You may read about his work at He has also been exploring the validity of data from such systems as an evaluative tool, showing that these performance data are strongly correlated with final exam performance at MIT. Some of this work was completed in collaboration with recent U-M Ph.D. student Andy Pawl.

Professor Pritchard will give a SLAM presentation at Noon on November 9, 2011 in 2435 North Quad.

Special SLAM Seminar
What Are Students Learning, From What Activity, and Is That OK?
Speaker: Dave Pritchard (Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics, MIT) 
11/09/201, 12:00 PM
Location: 2435 North Quad

Here is Professor Dave Pritchard’s description of the talk:

What Are Students Learning, From What Activity, and Is That OK?
What knowledge are students learning? What instructional activities are they learning it from? What student habits are helpful or detrimental to learning? What learning do they remember at graduation? We must be able to answer these questions to have an informed discussion about our educational process. Our recent research, including educational data mining, begins to answer these questions. I will also describe a software tutor that really helps students learn.

Finally, I shall address a key question - what do we really want students to learn? Given that most teachers want students to become more expert-like, I will describe a pedagogy, “Modeling Applied to Problem Solving” that has achieved this result. These studies were done in introductory college physics.

On Thursday afternoon, November 10, 2011, Professor Pritchard will also give a talk on recent work from his lab:

Special CM-AMO Seminar
Precision Mass Measurement: The Cyclotron Frequency is not qB/m, does E=mc2?
Speaker: Professor Dave Pritchard (Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics, MIT)
11/10/2011, 2:00 PM
Location: 335 West Hall