Analyzing Students’ Problem-Solving Sequences

A Human-in-the-Loop Approach


  • Erica Kleinman University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Murtuza Shergadwala University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Zhaoqing Teng University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Jennifer Villareale Drexel University
  • Andy Bryant University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Jichen Zhu IT University of Copenhagen
  • Magy Seif El-Nasr University of California, Santa Cruz



learning analytics, sequence analysis, visualization, human-in-the-loop methods, mixed methods, game-based learning, research paper


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.


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How to Cite

Kleinman, E., Shergadwala, M., Teng, Z., Villareale, J., Bryant, A., Zhu, J., & Seif El-Nasr, M. (2022). Analyzing Students’ Problem-Solving Sequences: A Human-in-the-Loop Approach. Journal of Learning Analytics, 9(2), 138-160.



Research Papers