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Fred Ingram

Research student

Fred Ingram

Lancaster University

The Management School




Most of my professional life involved Informational Technology, with over thirty years’ experience in Business Analysis, Project Management, Systems Analysis & Design, Data Warehousing, Programming, etc.  However, in the more recent past I was a teacher of Mathematics and ICT at a UK secondary school for 14 years.  I am currently a full-time, fully-funded, doctoral student with the intention of working on agent-based solutions to problems in any sector of industry, business etc. (although AI applications are of particular interest).

Thesis Outline

The PhD project is an investigation into the use of agent-based modelling (ABM) to simulate classroom interactions between students, teacher and teaching assistant in order to investigate the consequences of common lesson scenarios and interventions.

In order to develop a model, a 5-month case study was conducted at a UK secondary school.  A custom-built, highly efficient data collection program was used to collect data for over 40 hours of lessons, comprising approximately 20,000 classroom events capturing 17 student states and 15 teacher states.  This means that there are now quantitative measures (distributions) of how long students and teachers spend on different activities (e.g. working alone, working with others, chatting, being told off, being helped individually, helping others).   (The university Ethics Committee has retrospectively approved this data.)

Using NetLogo (a popular, free, open-source agent-based simulation development environment), a program has been developed to both simulate lessons and 'play back' the collected lesson data.  For each lesson, a room layout is created, with the students positioned at their desks and the teacher and teaching assistant moving around.  From both simulation and playback, one can clearly recognize patterns of behaviour.  The program also produces various graphs and statistics (e.g. a state transition matrix for each student and lesson) all aimed at giving insights into student and teacher behaviour.

The development and validation of the model of student and teacher behaviour is the primary focus of the project.  Their behaviour is governed primarily by plausible rules (constructed after observing teacher during the case study) plus the empirical data.

If successful, the final simulation tool could provide enhanced lesson analytics to teachers and educators by enabling them to run ‘what-if’ analyses to quantitatively measure the consequences of interventions, such as a seating rearrangement or a different lesson plan or the provision of a teaching assistant.


BSc (Hons) Computer Science, MSc Information Systems, Cert. Ed. Post Compulsory, MA Education, BSc (Hons) Mathematics

  • Published

    Simulating classroom lessons: an agent-based attempt

    Ingram, F. & Brooks, R. J., 21/03/2018, Proceedings of the SW18: The OR Society Simulation Workshop. Anagnostou, A., Fakhimi, M., Meskarian, R. & Robertson, D. (eds.). Operational Research Society, p. 230-240 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNConference contribution

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