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Meet the Team: Dr. Anthony Bothelo

May 23, 2019

Dr. Botelho is a research scientist with the ASSISTments lab. Before his PhD, Anthony completed his undergraduate in Interactive Media at Becker College and his Masters in Computer Science at WPI.

Tell me about your background and research interests.

I got started as an undergrad in Interactive Media, which means approaching game development, media creation, working with video and audio from a programming perspective. From there I went to WPI to get a Masters in Computer Science. Through that, I went for a PhD in Learning Sciences under Professor Neil Heffernan.

I like to focus on measuring student motivation and engagement affect, such as how students are feeling as they are working through content. My particular focus is on a concept called productive perseverance. Productive perseverance examines what motivates students to try to learn material even if they are having trouble doing so. On the flip side, we do see that students sometimes give up on challenging material. I look at why do students give up, how to get them to persist a little further, and how to get them the help that they need if they are struggling.

What made you choose the ASSISTments lab?

I met Neil first during my Masters. When I first started my Masters, I had no intention of going into this kind of research in education. I was inspired to come on board partly through taking a class with Neil. This opened my eyes to the power of applying my work in computer science to something that has a lot of meaning: education. Since that initial spark of interest, education is something that I have become really passionate about. I really love that I can apply computer science tools such as programming, software development, machine learning to a meaningful cause.

How do you see technology impacting education?

I think there are exciting new opportunities for technology in the classroom. In my opinion, the purpose of educational technology is to augment the teacher.  A lot of what we do here is, perhaps not to make a teacher’s job easier, but to work more with what time teachers currently have to make their classroom run more smoothly. A lot of my research is centered on how do we improve the teacher’s ability to interact with their students, highlight students who may be struggling, or highlight content that students need to review again. Helping teachers hone their classroom is how envision educational technology at its best.

I think that both the ASSISTments lab and the educational sciences are becoming increasingly collaborative and interdisciplinary. We are starting to see a lot of collaboration between the fields of computer science, education, psychology, data science. All these fields are coming together for the purpose of furthering education and related domains. I am hopeful that these collaborations really are going to benefit teachers in the future.

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