Erik Harpstead

Erik Harpstead
Carnegie Mellon University | CMU · Human-Computer Interaction Institute

PhD

About

34
Publications
7,694
Reads
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328
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2017 - present
Carnegie Mellon University
Position
  • Researcher
May 2014 - August 2014
Microsoft
Position
  • Research Intern
Description
  • Analyzed a large-scale dataset of gameplay data to understand common types of players in a popular racing game.
August 2011 - August 2017
Carnegie Mellon University
Position
  • PhD Student
Education
August 2011 - August 2013
Carnegie Mellon University
Field of study
  • Human-Computer Interaction
August 2011 - August 2017
Carnegie Mellon University
Field of study
  • Human-Computer Interaction
August 2007 - May 2011
Illinois Institute of Technology
Field of study
  • Psychology

Publications

Publications (34)
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In this paper we use an existing history learning game with an active audience as a research platform for exploring how humor and "snarkiness" in the dialog script affect students' progression and attitudes about the game. We conducted a 2x2 randomized experiment with 11,804 anonymous 3rd-6th grade students. Using one-way ANOVA and Kruskall-Wallis...
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent advances in machine learning have made it possible to train artificially intelligent agents that perform with super-human accuracy on a great diversity of complex tasks. However, the process of training these capabilities often necessitates millions of annotated examples -- far more than humans typically need in order to achieve a passing le...
Article
AI-enabled decision support systems have repeatedly failed in real world applications despite the underlying model operating as designed. Often this was because the system was used in an unexpected manner. Our goal is to enable better prediction of how systems will be used prior to their implementation as well as to improve existing designs, by tak...
Chapter
Simulations of human learning have shown potential for supporting ITS authoring and testing, in addition to other use cases. To date, simulated learner technologies have often failed to robustly achieve perfect performance with considerable training. In this work we identify an impediment to producing perfect asymptotic learning performance in simu...
Article
Digital learning games are designed to foster both student learning and enjoyment. Given this goal, an interesting research topic is whether game mechanics that promote learning and those that promote enjoyment have different effects on students’ experience and learning performance. We explored these questions in Decimal Point, a digital learning g...
Article
The Interactions website (interactions.acm.org) hosts a stable of bloggers who share insights and observations on HCI, often challenging current practices. Each issue we'll publish selected posts from some of the leading and emerging voices in the field.
Chapter
Full-text available
Simulated learners represent computational theories of human learning that can be used to evaluate educational technologies, provide practice opportunities for teachers, and advance our theoretical understanding of human learning. A key challenge in working with simulated learners is evaluating the accuracy of the simulation compared to the behavio...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The rise of game streaming services has driven a complementary increase in research on such platforms. As this new area takes shape, there is a need to understand the approaches being used in the space, and how common practices can be shared and replicated between researchers with different disciplinary backgrounds. In this paper, we describe a for...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
A wide variety of design strategies, tools, and processes are used across the game industry. Prior work has shown that these processes are often collaborative, with experts in different domains contributing to different parts of the whole. However, the ways in which these professionals give and receive peer feedback have not yet been studied in dep...
Chapter
When students are given agency in playing and learning from a digital learning game, how do their decisions about sequence of gameplay impact learning and enjoyment? We explored this question in the context of Decimal Point, a math learning game that teaches decimals to middle-school students. Our analysis is based on students in a high-agency cond...
Conference Paper
In this SIG, we propose a gathering of researchers and practitioners thinking about HCI in learning and educational contexts to foster an ongoing Learning and Education community at CHI. With the recent increase in CHI submissions relating to learning (40% more submissions than previous CHI), this SIG is an opportunity to foster an inclusive dialog...
Conference Paper
How do the features of a learning environment's user interface impact learners' agency and, further, their learning? We explored this question in the context of Decimal Point, a digital learning game designed to support middle school students in learning decimals. Previous studies of the game showed that giving students the ability to choose the or...
Article
Full-text available
Researchers have developed cognitive systems capable of human-level performance at complex tasks, but constructing these systems required substantial time and expertise. To address this challenge, a new line of research has begun to coalesce around the concept of cognitive systems that users can teach rather than program. A key goal of this researc...
Chapter
Full-text available
A key feature of most computer-based games is agency: the capability for students to make their own decisions in how they play. Agency is assumed to lead to engagement and fun, but may or may not be helpful to learning. While the best learners are often good self-regulated learners, many students are not, only benefiting from instructional choices...
Thesis
Educational games have become an established paradigm of instructional practice; however, there is still much to be learned about how to design games to be the most beneficial for learners. An important consideration when designing an educational game is whether there is good alignment between its content goals and the instructional behaviors it ma...
Conference Paper
The recent surge in interest in using educational data mining on student written programs has led to discoveries about which compiler errors students encounter while they are learning how to program. However, less attention has been paid to the actual code that students produce. In this paper, we investigate programming data by using learning curve...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
While Educational Data Mining research has traditionally emphasized the practical aspects of learner modeling, such as predictive modeling, estimating students knowledge, and informing adaptive instruction, we argue that Educational Data Mining can also be used to test and improve our fundamental theories of human learning. In the current work, we...
Article
Full-text available
The literature on concept formation has demonstrated that humans are capable of learning concepts incrementally, with a variety of attribute types, and in both supervised and unsupervised settings. Many models of concept formation focus on a subset of these characteristics, but none account for all of them. In this paper, we present TRESTLE, an inc...
Conference Paper
A central interest of game designers and game user researchers is to understand why players enjoy their games. While a number of researchers have explored player enjoyment in general, few have talked about methods for enabling designers to understand the players of their specific game. In this paper we explore the creation of engagement profiles of...
Conference Paper
Having insights into players' learning has important implications for design in an educational game. Empirical learning curve analysis is an approach from intelligent tutoring systems literature for measuring student learning within a system in terms of the skills involved. The approach can be used to evaluate how well different hypothesized models...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Developing models of the knowledge and skills being exercised in a task is an important component of the design of any instructional environment. Developing these models is a labor intensive process. When working in exploratory and open-ended environments (EOLEs) the difficulty of building a knowledge model is amplified by the amount of freedom aff...
Chapter
Designers of serious games have an interest in understanding if their games are well-aligned, i.e., whether in-game rewards incentivize behaviors that will lead to learning. Few existing serious games analytics solutions exist to serve this need. Open-ended games in particular run into issues of alignment due to their affordances for wide player fr...
Conference Paper
As educational games have become a larger field of study, there has been a growing need for analytic methods that can be used to assess game design and inform iteration. While much previous work has focused on the measurement of student engagement or learning at a gross level, we argue that new methods are necessary for measuring the alignment of a...
Conference Paper
Beanstalk is an educational game for children ages 6-10 teaching balance-fulcrum principles while folding in scientific inquiry and socio-emotional learning. This paper explores the incorporation of these additional dimensions using intrinsic motivation and a framing narrative. Four versions of the game are detailed, along with preliminary player d...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The rich interaction space of many educational games presents a challenge for designers and researchers who strive to help players achieve specific learning outcomes. Giving players a large amount of freedom over how they perform a complex game task makes it difficult to anticipate what they will do. In order to address this issue designers must as...
Conference Paper
The field of Educational Games has seen many calls for added rigor. One avenue for improving the rigor of the field is developing more generalizable methods for measuring student learning within games. Throughout the process of development, what is relevant to measure and assess may change as a game evolves into a finished product. The field needs...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
RumbleBlocks was developed at the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) to teach engineering principles of tower stability to children ages 4-7. The game features tower construction, tower piece removal, and tower comparison levels which were designed with feedback from early childhood educators and learning researchers, and iteratively improved wi...

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
The Apprentice Learner Architecture is a computational theory about the human learning process. The primary goal of the project is to implement a flexible software architecture that can be used to instantiate different models of the learning process that can be verified against pre-recorded data of human learners. Beyond the computational theory aspects of the project there are several other use cases for the system such as automated testing of learning interventions, enabling the authoring of educational technology by tutoring rather than programming, and exploring the effects of students learner by teaching.
Archived project
The main goal of this research is to explore the potential of using various replay based techniques to better understanding player behavior and learning within educational games. This was also the core of my thesis research.