SBIR Phase I: Increasing Student Engagement through Adaptive Instructional Video Delivery

Period of Performance: 12/15/2016 - 05/31/2017


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

PlayPosit, Inc.
4846 Church Lane PO Box 316
Galesville, MD 20765
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


This SBIR Phase II project addresses low student engagement through a dynamic video delivery environment, with a novel, real-time algorithm that adjusts the instructional pathway to each student's readiness level. Researchers consider disengaged pupils as the largest challenge facing teachers, as between 25% and 66% of students are considered to be disengaged (Taylor and Parsons 2011). As a solution, adapting instruction to each student's learning background has long been touted as one of the most effective methods to drive student engagement (Como & Snow 1986). After all, when instruction is individualized to the background of the student, engagement and outcomes increase dramatically (Corbett 2001). By calibrating video segments (using factors such as syntactic and lexical complexity) to the student's readiness, this project will guarantee appropriately challenging instruction to most effectively sustain engagement. This will be extremely useful for improving engagement and outcomes for all STEM students and, most pointedly, will impact English Language Learners (ELL) who often fall behind in STEM classes because instruction is beyond their readiness and in-class support is insufficient. Considering that, according to the National Education Association, ELL population is the fastest-growing population of public school students in the U.S., this project has a huge potential to drive a STEM proficient workforce. This project will result in a prototype instructional solution that uses algorithms to match video segment complexity with student readiness. This novel, pedagogically-sound approach sets itself apart from other adaptive solutions with its K12 STEM focus and proprietary frameworks. With its roots in the leading interactive video solution, this project is made possible through access to a large database of tagged and curated videos (400,000+) and questions (2.5 million+) and provides an unprecedented opportunity to develop adaptive instructional pathways for a diverse learning spectrum. The objective of this research is to prove this project can feasibly increase engagement, or psychological investment in learning, of science students and spark the next generation of adaptive instruction. For Phase I, the project team will deploy in classrooms a fully functioning prototype of a product built around a 10 lesson Physical Science unit. The team will employ stimulated recall interviewing technique, speak aloud interview protocols, and quantitative usage logs to assess the feasibility of highly-adaptive video instruction to increase student engagement.