Skip to main content

The Science Assistments Project: Scaffolding Scientific Inquiry Skills

  • Conference paper

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNPSE,volume 6095)


We present our computer-based learning environment, Science Assistments ( sci_assistments/; NSF-DRL # 0733286; NSF-DGE #0742503; U.S. Dept of Ed. # R305A090170), for Physics, Life Science, and Earth Science that scaffolds middle school students’ scientific process skills, namely, hypothesisgeneration, design of experiments, data collection, data interpretation, and warranting claims with evidence. Our project builds on prior development by the investigators of the Math Assistments project ( Specifically, we utilized the existing authoring functionality of the Math Assistments system and extended the logging functionality in order to capture students’ fine-grained actions within interactive microworlds. In addition, we developed a suite of inquiry tools to support students’ inquiry in terms of the five skills mentioned above. Together, the logging functionality and the inquiry tools provide the basis for adaptive scaffolding of students’ inquiry in real time. By reacting to students’ inquiry strategies in real time, we hypothesize that it will be possible to positively affect both students’ science process skills, shown by more goal directed inquiry and more systematic experimentation, measured through log files, as well as students’ content learning, as measured by prepost test gains. We plan to test our adaptive scaffolding in a series of randomized controlled studies in our four partner schools; the demographics of these students represent a wide range of SES and ethnic backgrounds, and thus, our data should generalize well. Goal outcomes include empirical data regarding the efficacy of our system at improving students’ science learning, namely, inquiry skills and content learning, across several dependent measures in each content domain.


  • intelligent tutoring
  • scientific inquiry

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD   39.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD   54.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2010 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

About this paper

Cite this paper

Gobert, J.D., Montalvo, O., Toto, E., Sao Pedro, M., Baker, R.S.J.d. (2010). The Science Assistments Project: Scaffolding Scientific Inquiry Skills. In: Aleven, V., Kay, J., Mostow, J. (eds) Intelligent Tutoring Systems. ITS 2010. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 6095. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-642-13436-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-642-13437-1

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)