Flowers outside the ICTC (Informatics) Building, IUPUI, Wednesday, July 17, 2013.

Informatics faculty receive SEIRI seed grants to develop AI-enhanced teaching and guided learning EHR tools

September 7, 2022

Research teams led by Fawzi BenMessaoud, Ph.D., lecturer in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Informatics and by Cathy Fulton, DNP, assistant professor in Health Informatics, all at the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, have been awarded departmental SEIRI seed grants for 2022. BenMessoud’s team’s project involves developing an AI-enhanced teaching and learning tool, FazBoard, and Fulton’s team’s project involves developing a simulated educational Electronic Health Record (EHR) to improve informatics instruction and pedagogy.

SEIRI (STEM Education Innovation and Research Institute) at IUPUI is functions as an independent campus unit administered by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. SEIRI serves as the hub of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education innovation, research, evaluation and consultation and brings together expert educational researchers with scientists and discipline-based educational researchers in order to inform and reform undergraduate and graduate education across IUPUI’s campus and beyond.

The SEIRI seed grants program (SSG) is a competition that facilitates and supports STEM education innovation and research. Specifically, this opportunity provides funding to faculty members to develop, implement, and evaluate the impact of pedagogical innovations across multiple IUPUI STEM courses. The projects are eligible for an award of up to $15,000 for individual or faculty team projects and up to $30,000 for departmental projects.

Fawn BenMessaoud

Fawzi BenMessaoud, Ph.D.

BenMessaoud’s project is “Improving student engagement, connectedness, and learning equity through AI-enhanced teaching & learning environments.”

Louie Zhu, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer, Informatics, is the other researcher on the grant.

“In teaching and learning in our undergraduate courses, we have identified three major problems dealing with students’ engagement, connectedness, and learning equity given the diversity of learners and teachers,” Principal Investigator BenMessaoud, said. “We will introduce FazBoard as an artificially intelligent teaching and learning system to address these three major problems. By integrating AI, the system leverages the potential of human and AI interaction in educational contexts. The system allows the educational stakeholders and AI tools to complement each other’s strengths to achieve educational goals and improve outcomes.”

The FazBoard system consists of two essential components: an infinite digital canvas and the AI Assistant. The digital canvas creates a teaching and learning environment. It allows a teacher to present and deliver materials to the learners synchronously or asynchronously. It also facilitates interaction and collaboration between the teacher and individual students and among students. The AI Assistant provides 24/7 instant responses to students’ inquiries. It automates the collection of student inquiries and the learning analytics. Results can be used to improve the curriculum in terms of substance, difficulty levels, delivery methods and styles.

The FazBoard system allows a teacher to focus on learning instead of teaching and to engage students through active learning using a combination of an infinite digital board and Artificial Intelligence. All students are capable of learning, BenMessaoud said, but they learn in a different way, under different conditions, and only when different instructional and pedagogical content design is applied to what they learn and how they learn. The FazBoard project aims to engage in intentional efforts to align teaching and learning activities with the diversity in classes and to ensure equitable access and learning outcomes through adaptive and active learning. The project also addresses the lack of connectedness and belated responses to students’ inquiries in a traditional teaching and learning environment. The system provides students with 24/7 on-demand instant responses through a fun and engaging conversational-driven AI Assistant persona.

Cathy Fulton

Cathy Fulton, DNP

Fulton’s project is ” Improving Informatics Competencies in Undergraduate and Graduate Education Using Guided Inquiry Learning by Developing a Comprehensive Educational HER.”

Saptarshi Purkayastha, Ph.D., Director of the Health Informatics program; Lisa DesNoyers, M.P.H., Director of the Health Information Management program; and Josette Jones, Ph.D., Interim Chair of the Department of BioHealth Informatics, are the other members of the research team.

Fulton, the Principal Investigator on the grant, said, “We will develop a robust educational electronic health record (EHR) using simulated patient data. We will then use this EHR to pilot competency-based changes in informatics courses using discipline-based education research, potentially changing the pedagogy of undergraduate and graduate informatics education. Because the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education recognizes all three programs in the Department of BioHealth Informatics, we already have specific learning outcomes and requisite competencies mapped to each course in the curriculum. We have selected five courses from the Health Information Management program, seven courses from the Health Informatics program, and one course from the Bioinformatics program for a phased rollout for which we will develop content for guided inquiry informatics learning using EHR.”

Through the SEIRI seed grant, Fulton’s team will identify personal traits associated with undergraduate and graduate students’ attitudes about the ease of use and utility of EHRs, academic achievement, self-efficacy, and persistence in learning BioHealth competencies. In addition, they will assess the impact of teaching through process-oriented guided-inquiry learning tasks with the educational EHR on the course instructors by quantifying self-efficacy using a pre-and-post EHR use survey. To fulfill all students’ medical requirements and viewpoints, they are committed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in developing their educational EHR learning platform. Therefore, they will evaluate the educational EHR for accessibility and learning gains in diverse groups of learners.

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