Analyzing Students’ Problem-Solving Sequences: A Human-in-the-Loop Approach

Erica Kleinman, M Shergadwala, J Villareale, A Bryant, Jichen Zhu, M Seif El-Nasr

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Educational technology is shifting toward facilitating personalized learning. Such personalization, however, requires
a detailed understanding of students’ problem-solving processes. Sequence analysis (SA) is a promising approach
to gaining granular insights into student problem solving; however, existing techniques are difficult to interpret
because they offer little room for human input in the analysis process. Ultimately, in a learning context, a human
stakeholder makes the decisions, so they should be able to drive the analysis process. In this paper, we present
a human-in-the-loop approach to SA that uses visualization to allow a stakeholder to better understand both the
data and the algorithm. We illustrate the method with a case study in the context of a learning game called Parallel.
Results reveal six groups of students organized based on their problem-solving patterns and highlight individual
differences within each group. We compare the results to a state-of-the-art method run with the same data and
discuss the benefits of our method and the implications of this work.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of learning analytics
Pages (from-to)138-160
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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