Kent Fuka, Founder & CEO
It is a known fact that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education plays a crucial role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy. Despite this, average mathematics and science scores of U.S. students are lagging behind. It is estimated that three million U.S. STEM jobs are projected to go unfilled by 2018 due to lack of skilled candidates.
What if a revolutionary technology is introduced in the education world that can sharpen STEM skills among students while making the learning process intuitive and quick? Thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI), the scenario can be achieved. As a leader in AI-based learning systems, Querium is leveraging the power of AI to enhance students' problem-solving skills with step by step feedback. The company’s StepWise Virtual Tutor mimics a teacher to help students master critical math and science skills. “We are on a mission to teach tens of millions of teens and adults the critical math skills they need to succeed in high-demand careers,” extols Kent Fuka, founder and CEO of Querium.
Querium is enabling numerous publishers to solve the problem associated with having an education product exclusively for mobile devices. “Over the last 20 years, publishers have generally built education products that run on web browsers for desktop-sized screens,” explains Fuka. As students are using mobile devices in every facet of their lives, including education, Querium’s mission is to bridge this gap by reaching students at their convenience and providing them with an adaptive learning experience. Along with an experienced management team that clearly understands the education market, Fuka developed a revolutionary product that can create an immense impact on how students learn math and science. Currently, Querium serves the needs of publishers as well as educational institutions in the K-12 and higher education markets.
Nudging the Students on to the Right Path
Querium’s StepWise Virtual Tutor, a SaaS-based AI system enables students to solve mathematics problems by submitting each step for evaluation where the AI engine immediately guides the students if the step is incorrect. Whenever an error is made, the engine will analyze the mistake and coach the students to bring them back on the right track and complete their assignment. In case, the student gets stuck, the engine can provide hints on request to suggest the next steps. The best part is that the students need not follow a single way of problem solving; StepWise encodes multiple methods for error analysis at different levels.
We are on a mission to teach tens of millions of teens and adults the critical math skills they need to succeed in high-demand careers
As long as the steps are valid according to the books of mathematics, the solution will accept the answer and allow the student to move forward. “Our AI-based StepWise Virtual Tutor works learners through problems step-by-step with instant feedback and coaching,” says Fuka.
Further, the StepWise Virtual Tutor also assists students to succeed in the Accuplacer math assessment test to enter into college. The engine offers engaging multimedia content like videos by award-winning teachers teaching math concepts through solving various examples. With around 2000 Accuplacer style practice questions, the student can also test the understandability by solving problems in the solution where StepWise will automatically assess if the student is ready to move to the next chapter. This way, Querium helps students improve test scores and enable community college students to avoid costly STEM courses to get admission. “A recent study shows that our products help 62 percent of users skip one or more semesters of remedial math classes when they get to college,” says Fuka. With StepWise’s personalized review program, students can boost skills and confidence when taking the Accuplacer math placement test. Moreover, StepWise works on smartphones and computers giving students the complete flexibility to study anywhere and at anytime.
In one instance, Onondaga Community College (OCC) students saw strong improvement in their placement scores on the Accuplacer Math test with Querium’s efficacy study. In fact, 83 percent of them were successful in their first community college math course. Besides, the vast majority of students were successful in the higher level course that they were placed into as a result of their improved performance on the Accuplacer test. “We’re thrilled with the success our students have demonstrated in math after using StepWise,” explains Anne DeLand OCC Director of Testing Services.
Querium understands the importance of TSI assessments for students looking to start college in Texas and offers TSI Pre Assessment Activity (PAA) online to position students for success within 30 minutes. Designed to be user friendly, Querium’s PAA online provides experience video-based explanations on the importance of TSI with sample practice questions. "We have been quite happy with the Querium PAA, its ease of use, its quick results, and the reporting system that makes our recordkeeping simple," says Debbie Kiesel, Director of the Academic Advising Center at Stephen F. Austin State University. Besides, the company also aids students with TSI math assessment preparation through Querium MathBooster for TSI. With short videos and practice questions, MathBooster is completely personalized for each student based on their learning paths.
Factoring in the Uniqueness
The use of AI for personalized learning not only provides detailed feedback to students but also shares student information with teachers to aid the teaching process. From the teacher’s perspective, StepWise captures student performance data and gives insights on student thinking and problem-solving process to instructors. The engine provides complete detailed data of each student starting from each step entered to the overall efficiency and accuracy of solving problems. The engine also provides details of the time taken by each student per step, per problem, and the number of hints the student took. Teachers also get insights into advanced information such as skill mastery demonstrated across the problems. With this information, teachers can know areas where students are lagging behind and focus on them. Likewise, publishers also gain insights on students using Querium to identify the part of their texts that students have the most difficulty with and revise that section for the next edition. “We really help at all levels of the user community with this one technology,” extols Fuka. For teachers and schools, Querium minimizes the time and effort by eliminating additional provisioning of students and the need for instructors in using the product.
"Our AI-based StepWise Virtual Tutor works learners through problems step-by-step with instant feedback and coaching"
Being born to a teacher family, Fuka closely understands the education market and is passionate about the educational technology. According to Fuka, the ability to provide ‘unique experience’ is a differentiating aspect for Querium, especially in the education realm. As experienced experts from the education field both Fuka and his co-founder Patti Smith always hunted for an intuitive solution for learning. “We spent years looking for a solution like this to incorporate into our products,” says Fuka. “We never found one. So we thought, ‘If we can't find this in the market, let's go out and build it.’”
Backed by a team having extensive experience building and leading successful companies in education, Querium has utilizes the opportunity of leveraging AI for personalized learning. The company brings to the table unique capabilities of providing detailed, individualized feedback to students at their moment of confusion and shares that information with teachers. Also, Querium licenses its technology to numerous publishers and online content providers to integrate into their solutions. This way the company removes the burden of developing both in-house expertise in AI and math pedagogy to deliver a single product. In fact, Querium provides a cost-effective way for channel partners to build their own in-house AI group to develop a virtual math tutor like StepWise. Querium’s A.I. engine helps publishers to enhance the quality of assessments and provides new insight into student thinking while increasing learner engagement.
The company will continue identifying the needs of the education market and fulfilling them using cutting-edge technologies such as AI. Querium will continue transforming classrooms using flipped learning models, creating an environment where students can gain confidence in their problem-solving abilities and a deep understanding of mathematics. Fuka also points toward product development in the coming years. “We want to add higher levels of math into the product and add support for chemistry and physics,” says Fuka.