Professor Gary Hieftje

Professor Gary Hieftje

Professor Hieftje's research involves Spectrochemical Analysis, Chemical Instrumentation, and Information Theory. One of his current projects incorporates studies on basic atom formation, ionization, and excitation processes in flames and rare-gas plasmas, for use in atomic emission, absorption, mass, and fluorescence spectrometry.

For more on Professor Hieftje

For more on the Hieftje Research Group


CALM was developed to address several deficiencies that exist in undergraduate (and high school) education.

  • Students do not receive sufficient opportunities to practice problem-solving.
  • Students are not provided with feedback about their comprehension of a particular concept in a timely manner
  • Students are not challenged based upon their individual strengths, weaknesses, or the unfolding history of their performance in a class.
  • Development of instructional materials is both time and resource intensive. Faculty often do not have either the time or the resources to develop new materials from scratch. Good materials developed at one institution should be broadly disseminated to maximize their benefit.

CALM addresses these problems by the following approach.

  • As a learning tool rather than simply a testing tool CALM (in its homework mode) allows students unlimited opportunities (without penalty) to solve the problem they are presented with. This encourages the students to spend time with the subject material in the program.
  • With questions that are algorithmically generated (this does NOT mean simply randomizing numerical values) students have access to a large database of questions within which to practice their mastery of a concept.
  • As questions are dynamically generated, the answers are also dynamically generated. Consequently, as soon as a student enters his or her response, the program provides them immediate feedback on the correctness of their response.
  • The architecture of CALM is based on the Socratic pedagogy. Each question posed to a student can be followed with a new leading question depending on the studentís response. To our knowledge no other online system has such an architecture.
  • We are presently examining how to implement a truly adaptive environment in CALM. This would challenge all students based on their ability while requiring sufficient mastery of a concept before proceeding to the next hierarchical concept.
  • With a Web based approach, CALM is completely accessible from anywhere in the world. It does not require any installation or maintenance at any institution other than Indiana University, Bloomington. Sharing the database of questions in this manner maximizes the benefit of the instructional development across all participating institutions. Faculty are also able to develop questions, as well as monitor their students performance via the Web interface.