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Academic History

Prof. Kolodner's research work investigates issues in learning, memory, and problem solving. As part of these investigations, she pioneered the reasoning method called case-based reasoning. In case-based reasoning, the results of previous cases are applied to new situations, cutting down the complexity of the reasoning necessary in later situations and allowing a problem solver to anticipate and avoid previously-made mistakes. Automated case-based reasoners from her lab include MEDIATOR and PERSUADER, common sense and expert mediation programs; JULIA, a case-based design problem solver; CELIA, a case-based car mechanic; MEDIC, a case-based physician; and EXPEDITOR, a case-based logistics manager. Emphasis in Kolodner's lab has been on case-based reasoning for situations of real-world complexity.

These projects led to concentrating on the applications of case-based reasoning to design and the implications of case-based reasoning for decision aiding, education, and creative problem solving. Two projects address the role case-based systems can play in aiding design practitioners and planners in their problem solving tasks. Archie-II helps architects
with conceptual design, while SciEd helps teachers customize science activities for their classrooms. DesignMUSE, created from Archie-II, is a shell for creating and using case-based design aids. In the creativity project, her research takes a case-based approach to understanding creative design processes, aiming in the long term to both build creative automated design systems and also advisory systems that can help human designers design more creatively.

Directing EduTech (web pages hopelessly out of date) was the next step in these efforts. EduTech's aimswere to use what we know about cognition to inform us about educational practice and the creation of educational technology. Work in EduTech concentrated on design education, where problem-based learning and examination of cases need to play crucial roles. Along with many other software projects, Archie-II, SciEd, and DesignMUSE are finding their ways into the classrooms and are being upgraded to support learning as well as problem solving. What we've learned about design cognition is being put to use in developing a design curriculum for engineers, architects, and software engineers.

Janet spent the 1996-97 academic year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. For some stories about her year (at least the beginning of it), click here.

From working on EduTech's focal projects came Professor Kolodner's current efforts: developing design-based curriculum for middle-school science and software to go with it. The Learning by Design Project has as its goal both to develop and publish such units and to learn what it takes to promote deep and lasting learning of science and technology concepts and skills and of life skills, such as communication, teamwork, investigation, and critical thinking. Learning by Design takes its cues from case-based reasoning, which tells us that one can best learn from experience if one does a good job of interpreting one's experiences and anticipating when the lessons they teach might be useful. The LBD project designs design-based curriculum units for the sciences, the classroom rituals that go with them to promote learning from experience, and software that promotes useful reflection both during and after one's activities.

Professor Kolodner has written two books and edited four, and has authored some dozens of technical papers. Case-Based Reasoning, published by Morgan-Kaufmann in 1993, presents work done by the entire case-based reasoning community, pulling together and comparing, for the first time, the different approaches researchers have made to addressing case-based reasoning's important issues. She is Editor in Chief of The Journal of the Learning Sciences, focussing on learning and education and is a co-founder and first Executive Officer of the International Society of the Learning Sciences (ISLS), http://www.isls.org. When the Cognitive Science Conference was held at Georgia Tech in 1994, she helped organized a workshop on cognitive science education, and she wrote a review and summary of the 1994 Education Workshop held during the 1994 Cognitive Science Conference..

Last modified 21 February 2005 at 4:28 pm by Janet L. Kolodner