Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Math Science Technology

Brain Scan Can Predict Math Mistakes 133

itwbennett writes "Computer Science Ph.D. candidate Federico Cirett says that he can predict with 80 percent accuracy when someone is about to make a mistake on a math question. Using an EEG machine, Cirett can identify the patterns in a volunteer's thinking that are likely to result in an error 20 seconds or so before it's made. 'If we can detect when they are going to fail, maybe we can change the text or switch the question to give them another one at a different level of difficulty, but also to keep them engaged,' Cirett said. 'Brain wave data is the nearest thing we have to really know when the students are having problems.' He will present a paper on his findings at the User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization conference in July."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Brain Scan Can Predict Math Mistakes

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Snowflakes (Score:5, Informative)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @01:18PM (#39773105)

    Well there are a bunch of different question guys.
    1. Question to show off. Ask an intelligent question that helps lead the professor into the next chapter. Sometimes it isn't to show off, but because how the material is presented, it get the person to stir about the points brought up in class and starts thinking too much so they get confused and needs to point out the details in the next part.

    2. The Stupid Question. These are questions that you ask because you weren't paying attention 5 minutes ago. Or because you failed to learn the course before.

    3. The Question that takes too long. If the Teacher/Professor cannot explain it to you after 2 questions you should take it off line, and not disrupt the class any further.

    4. The Question everyone has, but is afraid to ask. When one poor brave sole asks the question everyone else was afraid to ask. This often happens when the professor is trying to go to fast and/or uses proofs by intimidation to get to the next spot. "So we find this value, and as anyone can see it brings us to this conclusion...."

    5. The honest question. Others in the class may get it, but you are missing a small piece and you just can't quite visualize it. A quick answer and you are on your way.

    For the most part it is difficult to judge what type of question you are asking until after you asked it.

  • by Garth Smith ( 1720052 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @01:48PM (#39773521) Homepage

    I find your stereotype of educators incorrect. This study is attempting to figure out how students learn and solve problems. Such information is useful to educators. So in your words... If a student is having difficulty solving a math problem, we identify what deficiency is holding them back, then give them a simpler math problem that remedies the deficiency. Mathematics is highly structured, and I find that many times students need to go back and practice a prior topic before attempting the current exercise.

    I'm going to guess most people complaining didn't RTFA. Changing math problems in the middle of a test was an offhand comment in the last paragraph, discussing possible applications for his current research. The current research being understanding how the brain works.

  • by azadrozny ( 576352 ) on Monday April 23, 2012 @01:52PM (#39773583)

    It is called computer-adaptive testing. I can't speak to the CA CPA exam, but the algorithm is usually not secret. Questions are categorized as easy, medium, and hard, some tests may have more categories. Your first question is of medium difficulty. When you answer a question correctly, your next question is harder. If you get a question wrong, you are given the next easier question. You get more points for correctly answering a hard questions than an easy ones. The test taker does not know the difficulty of the current question, and you are never permitted to return to a question once it is submitted.

    This is how the GRE was run when I took it. I recall that you could request a statement of how each question was scored, but it was missing the question and the choices, so it would be of little diagnostic value to most people.

    I know I would not want to submit to a test that scores the question before you actually respond. I suppose it is a fun research topic, but I don't see a practical application for the work. Maybe you could add it to a game show like Who Wants to be a Millionare. There would be no need for Regis to ask "is that your final answer?"

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.