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New tutoring program using AI to help kids learn

PITTSBURGH — A new tutoring program developed by Carnegie Mellon University may help students once they are back in the classroom and it uses artificial intelligence.

The university first paired mentors with the new AI software in several school systems in the Pittsburgh area.

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

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

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“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.

The AI 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 the growing demand for high-level jobs and the struggle for schools to keep up with demand.