Fostering Computer Science and AI Learning through Youth-Led Conversational App Development Experiences (Funding: National Science Foundation, DRL-2048480)


Project DIALOGS will provide technology-rich learning opportunities for middle school students to design and develop spoken conversational apps using computer science. Spoken conversational apps include today's voice assistants and chatbots such as Siri, Alexa, Google Home, and many more. They are increasingly ubiquitous, and common interactions include asking them about the weather, or requesting them to play your favorite song. However, these interactions represent only a fraction of spoken conversational apps' capabilities. With today’s visual tools for developing conversational apps, young novices can create a tremendous variety of projects such as conversational games, recipe helpers, or CPR coaches. Creating this kind of personally relevant project offers meaningful engagement that has the potential to transform the way middle school students view STEM and computing careers. Beyond its impact on these participants, this project will contribute research findings and best practices for engaging middle school students in learning experiences around spoken conversational technologies.

Project Description

In Project DIALOGS, youth-led teams of middle school students will design and develop spoken conversational apps over the course of two-week summer camps. The project team's faculty, graduate students, and trained undergraduate camp counselors will guide campers as they create spoken conversational apps and learn foundational principles of computer science and artificial intelligence. Using Dialogflow, a flexible and powerful spoken conversational app development environment, learners will create a fully functional application which can be accessed by users from any smartphone, dial-up phone, or Google Home speaker. All middle school students who participated in the summer camp will be encouraged to return as peer leaders in subsequent years of the camp, affording them the continuous opportunity to build sustained interest through meaningful engagement. The project investigates the following overarching research question: In what ways can a summer development experience around spoken conversational apps foster middle school students' cognitive outcomes around computing and social-emotional outcomes of interest and identity formation related to STEM careers?


[9]Examining LLM Prompting Strategies for Automatic Evaluation of Learner-Created Computational Artifacts. Xiaoyi Tian, Amogh Mannekote, Carly E. Solomon, Yukyeong Song, Christine Fry Wise, Tom Mcklin, Joanne Barrett, Kristy Elizabeth Boyer, Maya Israel. Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Educational Data Mining (EDM), 2024, pp. To appear. [bib]
[8]A Framework for Inclusive AI Learning Design for Diverse Learners. Yukyeong Song, Lauren R Weisberg, Shan Zhang, Xiaoyi Tian, Kristy Elizabeth Boyer, Maya Israel. Computers and Education: Artificial Intelligence, vol. 6, 2024, pp. 100212. [bib] [doi]
[7]Artificial Intelligence Unplugged: Designing Unplugged Activities for a Conversational AI Summer Camp. Yukyeong Song, Xiaoyi Tian, Nandika Regatti, Gloria Ashiya Katuka, Maya Israel, Kristy Elizabeth Boyer. Proceedings of the 55th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE), 2024, pp. To appear. [bib]
[6]AI Made By Youth: A Conversational AI Curriculum for Middle School Summer Camps. Yukyeong Song, Gloria Ashiya Katuka, Joanne Barrett, Xiaoyi Tian, Amit Kumar, Tom McKlin, Mehmet Celepkolu, Kristy Elizabeth Boyer, Maya Israel. Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Thirty-Fifth Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence Conference and Thirteenth AAAI Symposium on Educational Advances in Artificial Intelligence, 2023, pp. 15851-15859. [bib]
[5]AMBY: A Development Environment for Youth to Create Conversational Agents. Xiaoyi Tian, Amit Kumar, Carly E Solomon, Kaceja D Calder, Gloria Ashiya Katuka, Yukyeong Song, Mehmet Celepkolu, Lydia Pezzullo, Joanne Barrett, Kristy Elizabeth Boyer, Maya Israel. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, vol. 38, 2023, pp. 100618, 1-15. [bib] [doi]
[4]Guide, Safety Net, Project Tester, and More: Investigating the Roles of Facilitators in an AI Summer Camp. Yukyeong Song, Xiaoyi Tian, Joanne Barrett, Maya Israel, Kristy Elizabeth Boyer. Proceedings of the 17th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), 2023, pp. 2013-2014. [bib]
[3]A Summer Camp Experience to Engage Middle School Learners in AI through Conversational App Development. Gloria Ashiya Katuka, Yvonika Auguste, Yukyeong Song, Xiaoyi Tian, Amit Kumar, Mehmet Celepkolu, Kristy Elizabeth Boyer, Joanne Barrett, Maya Israel, Tom McKlin. Proceedings of the 54th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, 2023, pp. 813-819. [bib] [doi]
[2]Early Design of a Conversational AI Development Platform for Middle Schoolers. Amit Kumar, Xiaoyi Tian, Mehmet Celepkolu, Maya Israel, Kristy Elizabeth Boyer. IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing (VL/HCC), 2022, pp. 1-3. [bib] [doi]
[1]Let's Talk It Out: A Chatbot for Effective Study Habit Behavioral Change. Xiaoyi Tian, Zak Risha, Ishrat Ahmed, Arun Balajiee Lekshmi Narayanan, Jacob Biehl. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 2021, pp. 1-32. [bib] [doi]