US20110098110A1 - System and method for providing a puzzle and facilitating solving of the puzzle - Google Patents

System and method for providing a puzzle and facilitating solving of the puzzle Download PDF

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US20110098110A1
US20110098110A1 US12/914,932 US91493210A US2011098110A1 US 20110098110 A1 US20110098110 A1 US 20110098110A1 US 91493210 A US91493210 A US 91493210A US 2011098110 A1 US2011098110 A1 US 2011098110A1
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user
story
puzzle
step
answer
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US12/914,932
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Paul D. Howell
Brian H. Huneke
Lewis J. Kleinsmith
A. Rees Midgley
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NOTABOOK PUBLISHING Inc
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NOTABOOK PUBLISHING Inc
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09BEDUCATIONAL OR DEMONSTRATION APPLIANCES; APPLIANCES FOR TEACHING, OR COMMUNICATING WITH, THE BLIND, DEAF OR MUTE; MODELS; PLANETARIA; GLOBES; MAPS; DIAGRAMS
    • G09B5/00Electrically-operated educational appliances
    • G09B5/02Electrically-operated educational appliances with visual presentation of the material to be studied, e.g. using film strip
    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09BEDUCATIONAL OR DEMONSTRATION APPLIANCES; APPLIANCES FOR TEACHING, OR COMMUNICATING WITH, THE BLIND, DEAF OR MUTE; MODELS; PLANETARIA; GLOBES; MAPS; DIAGRAMS
    • G09B7/00Electrically-operated teaching apparatus or devices working with questions and answers

Abstract

A multi-stage puzzle that guides a user to develop support for an answer to solve and complete the puzzle that includes conducting a note taking stage, conducting an answer and support presentation stage, conducting an answer and support evaluation stage, and hindering the completion of the puzzle based on the way the user completes each stage. The note taking stage preferably includes providing a plurality of story and reference pieces that may be selected by the user. The answer and support presentation stage preferably includes retrieving an inferred answer and support for the inferred answer based on the selected story and reference pieces from the user. The answer and support evaluation stage preferably includes evaluating the inferred answer. Hindering the completion of the puzzle preferably functions to encourage the user to adequately evaluate the provide story and reference pieces and to provide adequate support for an inferred answer.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/255,695, filed Oct. 28, 2009, which is incorporated in its entirety by this reference.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • This invention relates generally to the puzzle field, and more specifically to a new and useful investigation puzzle in the educational puzzle field.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Education has many facets. One of these facets is to provide information to students to expand their knowledge base. Another very important facet is to train students to learn on their own when a teacher is not available to provide an answer or information. One example of a self-learning skill is making observations of the environment, the situation, and/or the problem and relating the observations with information that the student has access to in order to make a conclusion in a logical manner. The ability to perform this skill well and early in the academic career of a student may provide a significant positive impact on their future academic and/or professional careers.
  • Throughout the history of education, many methods of teaching this skill have been implemented. A notable example is the Socratic method that encourages students to learn and further evaluate the problems they face by asking and answering questions. Yet another notable example is the Scientific method where the student defines a question, gathers information, forms a hypothesis, performs experiments, and draws a conclusion. These methods are well applied in fields of theory and science, but in the so-called information age (with the plethora of information that is available through the Internet, reference books, teachers, etc.), an additional self-learning skill is the ability to parse through the available information and select that which is important and useful to the problem.
  • This invention provides a system and a method to teach students this valuable skill of analyzing information, making observations of the environment, analyzing the problem, and using the information to solve the problem.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
  • FIGS. 1 a, 1 b, and 1 c are schematic representations of steps of the multistage puzzle of the preferred embodiments.
  • FIGS. 2 a and 2 b are schematic representations of the arrangement of the pieces of the multistage puzzle.
  • FIGS. 3 a, 3 b, 3 c, 3 d, and 3 e are representations of an Exemplary Puzzle.
  • FIGS. 4, 5 a, 5 b, 6 a, and 6 b are representations of variations of providing information to the user.
  • FIGS. 7 a, 7 b, and 7 c are representations of variations of hindering the completion of the puzzle.
  • FIG. 8 is a representation of a quiz administered to the user.
  • FIGS. 9 a and 9 b are representations of feedback provided to the user.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • The following description of the preferred embodiments of the invention is not intended to limit the invention to these preferred embodiments, but rather to enable any person skilled in the art to make and use this invention.
  • Overview
  • As shown in FIGS. 1 a and 1 b, the method of the preferred embodiments functions to use game elements to reinforce skills and practices that can lead to finding a solution. The method is preferably embodied in a computer program but may alternatively be embodied in a game board where the story pieces are cards or physical game pieces. In the preferred embodiments, the invention is a multistage puzzle S10 that guides a user to develop support for an answer to solve and complete the puzzle. The multistage puzzle S10 includes providing a user platform that includes an input device to receive input from the user and an output device to output to the user S20; conducting a note taking stage S100; conducting an answer and support presentation stage S200; hindering the completion of the puzzle based on the note taking stage and the answer and support presentation stage; and conducting an answer and support evaluation stage S300. The step of conducting a note taking stage S100 includes the steps of providing a story through the output device S110, providing a reference through the output device S120, capturing and transferring observations selected by the user from the story through the user platform that substantially relate to the unknown element S130, and capturing and transferring facts selected by the user from the reference through the user platform that substantially relate to the unknown element S140. The step of conducting an answer and support stage S200 includes the steps of linking observations from the story and facts from the reference selected by the user through the user platform S210 and facilitating the inference of a solution to the unknown element through the user platform S220. The step of hindering the completion of the puzzle is based on the captured observations and facts, the inferred solution, and the linking of observations and facts. The step of conducting an answer and support evaluation stage S300 includes evaluating the solution to the unknown element S310. As shown in FIG. 1 b, the multistage puzzle S10 may also include the steps of providing clues that further facilitate the inference of a solution to the unknown element S112, capturing and transferring observations selected by the user from the clues S132, and/or providing assistance to the puzzle S170.
  • As shown in FIG. 2 a, the step of providing a story S110 includes providing a plurality of story pieces 110 that cooperate to tell the story with the unknown element 112 and the step of providing a reference S120 includes providing a plurality of reference pieces 120 that each include information that substantially relates to the story told by the plurality of story pieces 110. The user selects particular story pieces 110 and fact pieces 120 in the steps of capturing and transferring observations S130 capturing and transferring facts S140. As shown in FIG. 2 b, the step of facilitating the inference of a solution to the unknown element through the user platform S220 includes retrieving an answer 220 for the unknown element from the user, and the step of linking observations and facts selected by the user through the user platform S210 includes receiving a selected story piece and a selected reference piece from the user and linking the selected story piece and the selected reference piece received when the story told by the selected story piece and the information in the selected reference piece are related to form support for the retrieved answer. In the answer and support evaluation stage S300, the retrieved answer and the received support for the retrieved answer are evaluated in Step S310, as shown in FIG. 2 b. The step of hindering completion of the puzzle S400 includes hindering the completion of the puzzle based on the received story pieces 110 and reference pieces 120 selected by the user, the retrieved answer 220 for the unknown element from the user, and the received support for the retrieved answer.
  • The multistage puzzle S10, which is preferably administered to a user (such as a student), functions to provide the user with an exercise in applying the self-learning process of parsing through information to come to a conclusion for a problem that is supported by the information. The multistage puzzle S10 facilitates the user in analyzing the details provided in the story in Step S110 (Step S130), the information in the reference provided in Step S120 (Step S140), and correlating the details from the story to the information included in the reference (Step S210) and inferring a solution to the unknown element of the multistage puzzle S10 (Step S220). By guiding the user through such an exercise, the user may become more familiar with and more efficient at applying this particular self-learning process and may become more likely to utilize this process in a situation that they may encounter in everyday life. The step of hindering completion of the puzzle S400 functions to encourage a user to substantially peruse through the story, gather information from the reference, and/or make an adequate number of relevant correlations before completing the game. For example, the step of hindering completion of the puzzle S400 may discourage a user from making a guess without substantial thought in order to finish the puzzle in a substantially small amount of time. The multistage puzzle S10 may also provide the user with the opportunity to learn the information that is provided in the reference in Step S120. For example, in the Exemplary Puzzle below, the user is provided with the opportunity to learn information related to various types of drugs and the effect these drugs may have on a person. The puzzle of the multistage puzzle S10 is preferably administered to individuals who are students of middle school age or high school age (ages 11-18), but may alternatively be administered to any other suitable age group (for example, elementary school age or adult age).
  • Exemplary Puzzle
  • As shown in FIGS. 3 a, 3 b, 3 c, and 3 d, an Exemplary Puzzle and an Exemplary Puzzle interface is text based and provided to the user on a computer. As shown in FIG. 3 a, the story provided in Step S110 relates to observable details on the behavioral changes in a person (in this case, “Tony”) due to Tony taking a drug, as shown in Box A, and the user is to infer the type of drug that Tony may have taken. As shown in FIG. 3 b, the references provided in Step S120 include facts on various types of drugs, their properties, and their effect on a person that has taken the drug, as shown in Box B. The capture and transfer of observations from the story and facts from the reference is facilitated in Steps S130 and S140 by allowing the user to select portions of the text presented in Box A and Box B to save into an electronic Notebook, as shown in Box C. To further facilitate the capture and transfer of observations, the selected text (the selection Box A1) is paraphrased and summarized into intelligible sentences with the relevant information when transferred into the Notebook (the resulting sentence in Box C1). As shown in FIG. 3 c, the correlation of observations and facts is facilitated in Step S210 by allowing the user to select saved observations from the Notebook to correlate with saved facts from the Notebook and vice versa in the Linkage window, as shown in Box D. To further facilitate the correlation of the observations and facts, the user may correlate facts that support a potential solution (a positive correlation) as well as correlate facts that reject another potential solution (a negative correlation), as shown in Box D1. The inference of a solution to the unknown element is facilitated in Step S220 by providing several potential solutions that the user may then select their inferred solution from, as shown in Box E of in FIG. 3 d. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 3 e, the linkage window Box D and the inferred solution Box E may be presented together, and the user may select their inferred solution in Box E and provide evidence supporting the inferred solution in Box D2 and provide evidence that proves against other potential solutions in Box D3. In this variation, step of linking observations from the story and facts from the reference selected by the user S210 may include the step of providing feedback on the correlation, for example, as shown in Box D2 a, in a correlation of an observation and a fact that supports the observation, for example, the observation of “Tony sweats more than usual” and the fact that “amphetamines may cause sweating,” the step of providing feedback on the correlation may include linking the observation and the fact. As shown in Box D2 b, in a correlation of an observation and a fact that does not substantially support the observation, for example, the observation that “Tony soon feels a burst of energy” and the fact that “amphetamines may cause user to feel great,” the step of providing feedback on the correlation may include not linking the observation and the fact and requesting for an alternative correlation.
  • Note Taking Stage
  • The Note Taking Stage is preferably where the multistage puzzle provides the user with the story and the references relating to the story and where the user can select parts of the story (certain story pieces 110) and certain facts provided (certain fact pieces 120) that may be relevant to determining the unknown element 112 of the story.
  • The step of providing a story S110 functions to provide the background information regarding the puzzle. The story S110 may include details and a question. As described above, the story includes a plurality of story pieces 110 that cooperate to tell the story. Each story piece 110 preferably includes at least one detail of the story, but any other suitable amount of detail may be included with each story piece 110. The details function to describe a particular scenario to the user and may be told from a first person perspective, third person perspective, or any other suitable perspective. The details are selected to differentiate the particular scenario from another scenario, for example, in the Exemplary Puzzle above where the unknown of the multistage puzzle S10 is the type of drug that a person may have taken (for example, a depressant or a stimulant), the story preferably includes details that support one type of drug and details that help eliminate the possibility of another type of drug (for example, a detail of “Shasha's heartbeat was faster than the normal range of heartbeat” to support that Shasha had taken a stimulant as opposed to a depressant). The details may alternatively be selected to provide ambiguity to increase the difficulty of the puzzle and/or to encourage the user to continue to search for relevant details (for example, a detail of “Shasha's endurance was increased” to support that Shasha had taken either a stimulant or a steroid). Yet alternatively, the details may be selected to provide confusion or material that is irrelevant to the final solution to increase the difficulty of the multistage puzzle S10, to test the ability of the user to discern between relevant and irrelevant material, and/or to encourage the use to continue to search for relevant details (for example, a detail of “Shasha woke up and saw that it was raining” to provide information that is irrelevant to the type of drug that she may have taken). However, any other suitable type of detail may be provided.
  • The question of the story functions to establish to the user the type of the puzzle of the multistage puzzle S10, the type of the solution to the puzzle, and/or the approach that the user may consider taking to solve the puzzle. For example, the question may establish that the puzzle of the multistage puzzle S10 is to deduce the type of drug that a person may have taken based upon the details in the story provided in Step S110, thus establishing that the solution to the puzzle is a type of drug and establishing that the user should analyze details that pertained to drug related changes in the person such as behavioral and/or physical changes. In the variation of the multistage puzzle S10 where the story provided in Step S110 includes both details that are relevant and irrelevant to the final solution, the question functions to establish the relevant details from the irrelevant details. For example, in a multistage puzzle S10 where the story provided in Step S110 includes details of two unrelated aspects of a scenario such as the weather (“Shasha woke up and saw that it was raining”) and a drug related change (“Shasha's heartbeat was faster than the normal range of heartbeat”), the question that is “What season is described in the story?” will establish that the detail on the weather is the relevant detail and a question that is “What type of drug did Shasha take?” will establish that the detail on the drug related change is the relevant detail. However, any other suitable question may be used.
  • In the variation where details may be selected to provide confusion or material that is irrelevant to the final solution, each story piece is assigned a relevance factor that functions to determine the relevance of the story told in the story piece. This may be substantially useful in determining the strength of the support that the user forms to support the inferred answer, but may alternatively be used to determine whether the user has completed the multistage puzzle or any other suitable use. In the example above, for a question that is “What type of drug did Shasha take?”, the detail “Shasha's heartbeat was faster than the normal range of heartbeat” would be assigned a higher relevance factor than “Shasha woke up and saw that it was raining.” The relevance factor is preferably hidden from the user such that the user cannot rely on the relevance factor to select to capture and transfer a particular observation from the story. For example, the relevance factor may be stored within a database in the processing unit of the user platform and each story piece may be assigned a code that is then matched to a relevance factor in the database. However, the relevance factor may be stored and/or referenced in any other suitable means or method.
  • The multistage puzzle S10 of the preferred embodiments may also include the step of providing the user with clues S112. The step of providing the user with clues S112 functions to provide the user with additional information that may assist them in inferring a solution to the puzzle of the multistage puzzle S10. The clues may be presented in a manner similar or identical to the story, for example, both the story and the clues may be presented in their entirety in a text window. Alternatively, the clues may be presented in a manner different from the story. For example, the story may be presented in its entirety in a text window while the clues are presented in an interactive manner as details in a graphical form for the user to search through (FIG. 4), as information from an interview with a fictional character (FIGS. 5 a and 5 b), and/or as information gathered through a lab (FIGS. 6 a and 6 b). However, any other suitable combination of the available information output from the user platform 20 may be used.
  • The step of providing a reference S120 functions to provide the user with facts relating to the story. As described above, the reference preferably includes a plurality of reference pieces 120 that each includes information that substantially relates to the story told by the plurality of story pieces 110. In the Exemplary Puzzle above, the reference includes facts about a variety of drugs. The reference may alternatively include facts on historical events, historical figures, currently available facts from researchers or anthropologists for an inconclusive puzzle (for example, the reason for the disappearance of the Mayan civilization or the dinosaurs). However, the reference may include any other suitable facts that are relevant to the story. The user may then review the facts provided by the reference to infer a solution to the unknown element. Complexity of the multistage puzzle S10 may be increased by providing an increased number of facts in the reference that the user would parse through in order to distinguish the facts that are relevant to the story and/or the unknown element. The reference may also include facts that are irrelevant to the story and/or the unknown element to increase complexity of the puzzle of the multistage puzzle S10. For example, in the Exemplary Puzzle, Tony is a wrestling athlete, and the reference may include facts relating to the training procedure for a wrestling athlete, which are irrelevant to the unknown element because the story is asking the user to deduce the type of drug that Tony may have taken, not the type of training that Tony may have done. Alternatively, the reference may provide facts that are seemingly irrelevant but actually are relevant to the unknown element. In the preceding example, providing facts regarding training procedure for a wrestling athlete may seem irrelevant to deducing the type of drug that Tony may have taken, but Tony may have been taking a special drug in order to complete his training and the training procedures included in the reference may help the user in deducing the final solution. However, any other suitable reference may be provided in Step S120.
  • Similar to the story pieces 110, in the variation where the reference may include facts that are irrelevant to the puzzle, each reference piece 120 is assigned an importance factor that functions to determine the importance of the fact included in the reference piece 120 relative to the story and/or the unknown element. This may be substantially useful in determining the strength of the support that the user forms to support the inferred answer, but may alternatively be used to determine whether the user has completed the multistage puzzle or any other suitable use. In the example above, for a question that is “What type of drug did Tony take?”, the fact “Stimulants generally increase heart rate” would be assigned a higher importance factor than “Coffee is a stimulant.” Similar to the relevance factor, the importance factor is preferably hidden from the user such that the user cannot rely on the importance factor to select to capture and transfer a particular observation from the story. However, the importance factor may be stored and/or used in any other suitable manner.
  • The steps of capturing and transferring observations selected by the user from the story S130, facts selected by the user from the reference S140, and observations selected by the user from the clues S132 functions to allow the user to notate observations made from the details of the story provided in Step S110, facts from the reference provided in Step S120, and/or observations form the clues provided in Step S112 that the user desires to notate. Steps S130, S140, and S132 preferably allow the user to capture observations and facts that are relevant to the puzzle. For example, in the Exemplary Puzzle, Step S130 and Step S132 preferably allow the user to capture observations relating to drug induced behavioral changes such as increased heart rate, dilated pupils, increased perspiration, increased agitation, and/or increased endurance and Step S140 preferably allows the user to capture facts that relate to behavioral changes that are induced by a particular drug, for example, stimulants cause increased heart rate, stimulants increase endurance, depressants increases relaxation, and/or stimulants and depressants may cause dilated pupils. To increase the difficulty of the puzzle of the multistage puzzle S10, Steps S130, S140, and S132 may also allow the user to capture observations and facts that are not relevant to the puzzle (for example, story pieces 110 and/or reference pieces 120 with substantially low relevance factors and importance factors) to exercise the user's ability to parse through information and discern the relevant information from the irrelevant information. For example, in the Exemplary Puzzle, Step S130 may allow the user to capture the observation that “Tony has a good shot at winning a state championship at the high school wrestling tournament tomorrow” and Step S140 may allow the user to capture the fact that “some stimulants are made from plants.” However, Steps S130, S140, and S132 may allow for the capture and transfer of any other suitable observations and facts from the story, the reference, and the clues.
  • The steps of capturing and transferring observations from the story S130, facts from the reference S140, and observations from the clues S132 selected by the user may include providing the user with suggestions of observations or facts that may be relevant to the puzzle. For example, in the Exemplary Puzzle, the text of the story and the reference is grouped into a plurality of notable sections that the user may then select to capture and transfer into the Notebook. The grouping of the information may also function to indicate to the user portions of the information that function as a group. For example, in the Exemplary Puzzle, the text “but he feels too energetic to relax and doesn't fall asleep” provided in Box A1 in FIG. 3 a is grouped as a notable section, indicating to the user that the details of “too energetic to relax” and “doesn't fall asleep” are related, which is a strong indication of Tony having taken a stimulant. If the text in Box A1 were not grouped into a notable section, the user may only take note of one of “too energetic to relax” or “doesn't fall asleep,” neither of which by themselves are as strong of an indication of Tony having taken a stimulant, thus missing a portion of the relevant detail. As mentioned above, the notable sections preferably each include information that is relevant to the puzzle, but may alternatively include information that is irrelevant to the puzzle of the multistage puzzle S10.
  • The steps of capturing and transferring observations from the story S130, facts from the reference S140, observations from the clues S132 selected by the user may also include paraphrasing and summarizing the information into the relevant information. For example, as shown in FIGS. 3 a and 3 b, Steps S130 and S140 of the Exemplary Puzzle allow the user to select a portion of the text from the story or the reference (“but he feels too energetic to relax and doesn't fall asleep” from Box A1) to notate into the Notebook in Box C, and then the text is paraphrased and summarized into intelligible sentences with the relevant information (“Tony couldn't relax or fall asleep” in Box C1) and transferred into the Notebook. Summarizing the information into the relevant information functions to inform the user of the process of discerning only the most relevant portions of the information and of notating only the most relevant portions of information. Paraphrasing the information into intelligible sentences functions to inform the user of the process of taking useful notes that are understandable at a later time. However, the step of summarizing and paraphrasing may include any other suitable method of manipulating the details and facts provided to the user and may function to provide any other suitable information to the user. Additionally, the above step of grouping the information provided by the multistage puzzle S10 into a plurality of notable sections functions to simplify the paraphrasing and transfer process into the Notebook by allowing the user to select predetermined sections of the text. In other words, each notable section is correlated with a paraphrased and summarized version of the notable section that is transferred to the Notebook when the user selects the notable section.
  • The steps of capturing and transferring observations from the story S130, facts from the reference S140, and observation from the clues S132 selected by the user may alternatively include any other step suitable to be applied to the multistage puzzle S10 and the user platform 100. For example, in the variation where the story is provided in a diorama, Step S130 may include providing the user with a camera that allows the user to capture the scene displayed on the diorama or a portion of the scene. Step S130 in this variation may include providing a tray for the user to gather objects (each of which is a story piece 110) that may be included in the diorama. Step S130 may alternatively include providing a set of questions, incomplete sentences, and/or guidelines that lead the user into considering certain details provided in the story.
  • Answer and Support Presentation Stage
  • The Answer and Support Presentation Stage is where the multistage puzzle receives an inferred answer 220 to the unknown element and facilitates the correlation of selected story pieces 110 and fact pieces 120 to form support for the inferred answer 220.
  • The step of linking observations and facts selected by the user S210 functions to allow the user to correlate the observations that were notated in Steps S130 and S132 with the facts that were notated in Step S140. For example, in the Exemplary puzzle, a Linkage window is provided for the user to select captured observations and facts from the Notebook to place into the Linkage window, as shown in FIG. 3 c. The Linkage window includes a column for facts and a column for observations, and allows for the user to place an observation adjacent to a fact that the user would like to correlate with, either positively or negatively. Each positive or negative correlation between an observation and a fact preferably provides the user with an argument supporting a solution or an argument against a solution, respectively. As shown in FIG. 3 e, the Linkage window may also include categories that relate to the proposed answer to the unknown element. For each possible answer, the Linkage window may provide a category for correlations that support the answer and a category for correlations that argue against another possible answer. Each observation may be correlated with more than one fact, and each fact may be correlated with more than one observation. Alternatively, each unique observation may be correlated with only one unique fact. This may function to encourage the user to further peruse the story provided in Step S110, the clues provided in Step S112, and the reference provided in Step S120 for additional observation and facts to correlate. Alternatively, the Linkage window may encourage the user to correlate facts and/or observations from more than one source, for example, in the variation where the story is provided through both a story and an interview with a fictional character, the Linkage window may output text to encourage the user to correlate at least one observation from each source to a fact. However, any other suitable method for linking observations and facts selected by the user S210 may be used, for example, a chart on a piece of paper or a magnifying glass that allows for the user to examine a physical piece gathered from the story and compare it with a physical sample provided in the reference.
  • The step of linking of observations and facts selected by the user S210 may also include the step of evaluating the correlations, as shown in FIG. 3 e. This may include counting the number of correlations that have been made and comparing the number of correlations to a predetermined number of desired correlations. The number of desired correlations may indicate the minimum number of correlations before a solution can be adequately presented and argued, encouraging the user to establish a strong argument, both supporting a solution and against another solution, before finalizing on an inferred solution to the puzzle. Alternatively, the step of evaluating the correlations may include judging whether a correlation is relevant. For example, in the Exemplary Puzzle, the user may correlate the observation of “Tony has a good shot at winning a state championship at the high school wrestling tournament tomorrow” with the fact “Stimulants may cause the pupil to dilate.” This correlation would not provide a relevant argument towards any solution for the puzzle “What drug did Tony take?” Such a correlation may be judged as irrelevant and the user may be encouraged to find a different, more relevant correlation. Each correlation may be assigned a linkage correlation factor that determines the relevance of the correlation. Similar to the relevance factor and the importance factor, the linkage correlation factor functions to determine the relevance of the correlation to the unknown element. The linkage correlation factor may be based on the relevance factor of the observation and the importance factor of the fact that are used to form the linkage, but may alternatively also be assigned to a particular linkage because each relevant observation may not relate to each important fact. For example, the observation that “Tony was sweating more than usual” may be assigned a substantially high relevance factor and the fact that “Stimulants cause high heart rate” may be assigned a substantially high importance factor, but the linkage of “Tony was sweating more than usual” to “Stimulants cause high heart rate” may not be a substantially relevant linkage and may be assigned a substantially low linkage correlation factor. The linkage correlation factor is also preferably hidden from the user such that the user cannot rely on the linkage correlation factor to build linkages. For example, the linkage correlation factor for each possible combination of observation to fact correlation may be stored within a database that may be referenced with each correlation that is made by the user in the Linkage window. However, the linkage correlation factor may be stored and/or referenced in any other suitable means or method. Alternatively, because thought processes vary between users, the correlations may not be evaluated at all to encourage users to solve the puzzle using a method that is most comfortable.
  • The step of facilitating the inference of a solution to the puzzle S220 functions to provide the user with a set of choices for the solution to the puzzle that the user can then select their inferred answer from, as shown in FIGS. 3 d and 3 e in the Exemplary Puzzle. By providing a set of choices for the solution, the puzzle S220 guides the user into considering a set of solutions, which may facilitate the user in focusing on supporting one of the given set of solutions and arguing against the other available solutions. This may decrease the likelihood that the user pursues a solution that is incorrect. In the variation where the unknown element of the multistage puzzle S10 has no conclusive answer (for example, why the Mayan civilization disappeared), the Step S220 preferably allows for the user to propose an answer or to compose an essay based upon the correlations that were facilitated in Step S210. However, any other suitable assistance in the inference of the solution may be provided to the user.
  • Hindering the Completion of the Puzzle
  • As described above, the step of hindering the completion of the puzzle S400 functions to encourage a user to substantially peruse through the story, gather information from the reference, and/or make an adequate number of relevant correlations before completing the game. Once the user has adequately completed the steps that build toward a substantially strong support for an inferred answer, the step of hindering the completion of the puzzle S400 allows the user to complete the game and proceed to completing the puzzle.
  • The step of hindering the completion of the puzzle S400 prevents the user from completing the puzzle until a particular score is reached, as shown in FIG. 7 a and 7 b. The score is based on the captured observations (story pieces 110), captured facts (reference pieces 120), the inferred answer 220, and the correlations of the observations and facts and functions to prevent the user from completing the puzzle until a certain number of observations are captured, facts are captured, and/or observations and facts are correlated. The step of hindering the completion of the puzzle S400 may include preventing completion of the puzzle by preventing the submission of a final answer, for example, as shown in Box F of FIG. 7 a and 7 b. As shown in FIGS. 7 a and 7 b, the step of hindering the completion of the puzzle S400 preferably includes keeping track of the captured observations, captured facts, and/or correlated observations and facts and hides and/or obscures the answer submission tab of Box F until a quota is met for each category to prevent the submission of a final answer, as shown in Box H. Alternatively, the step of hindering the completion of the puzzle S400 may include communicating to the user that the answer may be improved and/or the support for the answer may be improved and providing the opportunity to revisit the support and/or inferred answer prior to submitting a final answer, as shown in Box H of FIG. 7 c.
  • The step of hindering the completion of the puzzle S400 may also include preventing the user from progressing from a first stage to a second stage until a particular score is reached, for example, preventing the user from progressing from the note taking stage to the answer and support presentation stage until a particular score is reached. This functions to encourage the user to thoroughly explore the activities presented in each stage and/or to tackle each portion of the inference process at one time, in particular, to capture enough observations and facts in the note taking stage that may be useful to build a support for an inferred answer in the answer and support presentation stage. However, completion of the puzzle may be hindered using any other suitable method.
  • The score may be managed in one of a variety of methods. In a first variation, the score may be increased with each captured observation, captured fact, and/or correlated observation and fact. In a second variation, the score may be increased with each captured relevant observation, each captured important fact, and/or each relevant correlated observation and fact. In this variation, the relevance factor, importance factor, and/or the linkage correlation factor may be used to determine the score. For example, a fact with a substantially high importance factor may increase the score more than a fact with a substantially low importance factor. The capture of a fact with a substantially low importance factor may result in no increase in the score, but may alternatively increase the score a substantially low amount to encourage the user to peruse through each available fact in the reference. Alternatively, the capture of a fact with substantially zero importance relative to the story and/or the unknown element may decrease the score.
  • In a third variation, the score may be increased with a bonus for capturing all the available observations provided in the story or facts provided in the reference. For example, the multistage puzzle provides a total of fifteen observations and/or details in the story. The score may be increased with each captured observation, but a bonus may be added to the score when all fifteen observations are captured. Alternatively, the score may be increased for capturing all of the available relevant observations of the story. For example, of the total fifteen observations in the story, only ten are relevant (are assigned a substantially high relevance factor). The score may be increased with each captured relevant observation, but a bonus may be added to the score when all ten relevant observations are captured. Similarly, a bonus may be added to the score when all the observations and/or relevant observations are captured from a witness interview scenario, a lab scenario, or from a graphic represented from the scene.
  • In a fourth variation, the score may be increased with a bonus for correlating facts with observations from more than one source. As described above, this method may be used to encourage a user to correlate observations taken from more than one source in order to build a support for the inferred answer. For example, a bonus may be added to the score when the user correlates an observation taken from an interview with a witness to a fact as well as an observation taken from a lab.
  • In a fifth variation, the score may be increased with a bonus for capturing and/or looking into more than one portion of the reference. For example, the user may already suspect that Tony took a stimulant and may only capture facts from the stimulant portion of the reference. However, a bonus may be achieved for looking into and/or capturing facts from portions of the reference that relate to hallucinogens, body builders, and/or depressants to encourage the user to learn more about other types of drugs.
  • In a sixth variation, the score may be increased with each message that a user communicates to another user discussing the story and/or the unknown element. This may encourage users to collaborate to form support for a particular answer. In a fourth variation, the multistage puzzle may also include quizzing the user on the knowledge that may have been gathered in the course of the multistage puzzle, as shown in Box L of FIG. 8, and the score may be increased with each correct answer supplied by the user. Similarly, the score may also be decreased with each incorrect answer supplied by the user.
  • The score is preferably managed using one of the variations above, but may alternatively be increased and/or decreased using any suitable combination of the variations above or any other suitable method.
  • The score is preferably managed by the processing unit of the user platform 20, but may alternatively be managed by a central processing unit of the network that is connected to the user platform 20 or both the user platform 20 and the network. However, the score may be managed by any other suitable component of the user platform 20 and/or the network.
  • Answer and Support Evaluation Stage
  • The Answer and Support Evaluation Stage is preferably the final stage of the multistage puzzle and where the inferred answer 220 and/or the linkages of the observations and facts are evaluated. The step of evaluating the solution to the unknown element S310 functions to evaluate the solution inferred by the user, in particular, whether the inferred solution is correct. The answer and support evaluation stage may also include the step of evaluating the support for the inferred solution S320. The step of evaluating the support for the inferred solution preferably establishes whether the support is strong for the inferred solution. For example, if the inferred solution is incorrect, the support may be evaluated to determine what may have led the user to an incorrect inference of the solution. Alternatively, in the variation of the multistage puzzle where there is no conclusive answer (for example, the reason for the disappearance of the Mayans), the step of evaluating the solution and the linking of observations and facts S310 may include evaluating the support provided for the inferred solution and whether the support is valid.
  • The answer and support evaluation stage may also include providing feedback to the user regarding the inferred solution and/or the support for the inferred solution S330. The feedback may include informing the user whether the inferred solution is correct and may also include a summary of the provided details of the story and facts in the reference that support the correct solution, as shown in Box N1 of FIG. 9 b. The feedback may also include a summary of the steps that the user completed in the multistage puzzle, as shown in Box N2 and/or the summary of the score achieved by the user. The feedback may also include whether the correlations that the user made adequately support the inferred solution. The feedback may be provided in a digital form (for example, a computer graphic), but may also be a physical feedback, for example, a printout, that the user may keep as a reference and/or show to a teacher. As shown in FIG. 9 a, the multistage puzzle may also inform the user adequately performed the steps to build toward a substantially strong support for the inferred answer (Box M1) as well as provide the opportunity to revisit the support and/or inferred answer prior to submitting a final answer even though the user has adequately completed the steps that build toward a substantially strong support for an inferred answer (Box M2).
  • The multistage puzzle S10 may also include the step of providing assistance to the puzzle S170. Step S170 may include the step of providing instructions on using the interface for the multistage puzzle S10, for example, “Read the story, and notate your observations”, or, as shown in Box K of FIG. 7 a, the assistance may explain what a certain graphic may indicate. The step of providing assistance to the puzzle S170 may alternatively include the step of allowing the user to discuss the puzzle of the multistage puzzle S10 with another user, a teacher, a classmate, an administrator, artificial intelligence within the user platform 100 or the network connected to the user platform 100, or any other suitable source of a second opinion or additional information, as shown in Box G of FIG. 7 a. However, any other suitable type of assistance to the puzzle may be provided to the user.
  • User Platform
  • The user platform 20 is preferably a computer device, as shown in the FIGS. 1 b and 1 c. The user platform 20 preferably includes an input device 22 for input from the user and an output device 24 for output to the user. The input device 22 preferably allows for the user to input a selection. In the Exemplary Puzzle, the input device 22 preferably allows for the user to input a selection of the provided text. The input device 22 may also alternatively allow the user to input a section of a graphic, text, audio, and/or video, thus enabling the user to notate observations, relevant facts, and/or their inferences in any suitable format or arrangement.
  • The output device 24 preferably outputs information to the user, for example, the story provided in Step S110, the clues provided in Step S112, and/or the reference in Step S120. As shown in the Exemplary Puzzle above, the user platform 20 preferably outputs the information in text form. Alternatively, the output device 24 may output the information in graphical form, audio form, video form, or any other suitable form of delivery of the story in Step S110. The output device 24 may also output all available information at one time, for example, as shown in the Exemplary Puzzle above, the story provided in Step S110 may be presented in its entirety in a text window. The output device 24 may alternatively output the information in an interactive manner where a portion of the information is presented at one time, for example, the information may be presented in graphical form where the user searches the graphic for a relevant graphic detail, selects the graphic, and is shown a portion of the information (shown in FIG. 3). In a second example, the user may engage in a simulated conversation with a fictional character where the user proposes questions to the fictional character and the answers provided by the fictional character contain a portion of the information (shown in FIGS. 4 b and 4 c). In a third example, the user may engage in a simulated laboratory experiment where the result of the experiment contains a portion of the information (shown in FIGS. 5 a and 5 b). In this third example, the user may also be informed in the procedure for the laboratory experiment that may be applied in everyday life (for example, measuring the size of a pupil or taking blood pressure). However, any other suitable presentation of information by the output device 24 may be used.
  • The user platform 20 is preferably a computer that includes a keyboard, a mouse, a video camera, and/or a microphone as an input device 22 and a display as an output device 24. The story pieces 110 and the reference pieces 120 may be displayed on the display to the user. The user platform 20 may alternatively be game board or a sheet of paper with the story presented in a graphical or text form where each story piece 110 may be a portion of the graphic or text or may also be a three-dimensional diorama that displays a plurality of story pieces 110 and/or reference pieces 120 where the user notates observations and relevant facts by taking note of the scene provided in the diorama. However, any other suitable user platform 20 may be used.
  • The user platform 20 may also include a processing unit that performs the steps of providing the user with a story S110, providing the user with clues S112, capturing and transferring of observations from the story and/or the clues S130 and S132, facilitating the inference of a solution to the puzzle S220, evaluating the solution to the unknown element S310, and/or providing the user with assistance to the puzzle S170. The multistage puzzle may alternative include connecting the user platform 20 to a network to communicate with the network S30. In a first variation, the network may function to provide the story with an unknown element and the reference that includes facts to the user platform to present to the user. In a second variation, the user platform may function to communicate at least one of the captured observations from the story, captured facts from the reference, linkages of observations and facts, and inference of a solution to the unknown element to the network and the network may function to evaluate the communicated information, for example, to determine the validity of the linkages, the relevance of the captured observations and/or facts, the correctness of the inferred answer, and/or the strength of the support for the inferred answer. The evaluation of the communicated information may be preformed by a central processing unit within the network. Alternatively, the network may function to allow an administrator to view the communicated information and to formulate an evaluation. The step of evaluating information communicated from the user platform to the network may include the step of providing a clue to the user to facilitate the inference of a solution to the unknown element based on the evaluation. For example, the evaluation may determine that the observations and facts that the user has selected are not substantially relevant and may provide a clue that encourages the user to select a more relevant observation and/or fact. In another example, the evaluation may determine that the user is not making relevant links between observations and facts and may provide a clue that encourages the user to link a particular observation to a particular fact. In another example, the evaluation may determine that the user is unfamiliar with the user platform and may provide a clue to teach the user the usage of the user platform. However, any other suitable clue may be provided. In a third variation, the network may connect to a plurality of user platforms as shown in FIG. 1 c, each with a user, and may function to allow a first user to communicate to a second user (shown in Box G in FIG. 7 a), for example, a first user may share an observation, fact, proposed correlation, and/or clue to a second user. In a second example, the network may allow a first user and a second user to discuss the captured observations and/or facts to form correlations and/or infer a solution to the unknown element. In the first and second examples of this variation, the first and second users may be alternatively described as cooperating on a team to solve the puzzle. In a third example, the network may allow a first user to communicate his or her progress, score, time, or any other suitable information regarding their progress within the puzzle to a second user. This may be particularly useful when the users are competing to obtain the highest score and/or fastest time to completing the puzzle. An alternative to the third example may be to report the progress of the user to a processor that compares the progress of the user to a progress standard to determine whether the user is progressing faster and/or better than a certain baseline progression. This may be particularly useful in the case where the user may be trying to beat a previous user (or his or her own) score or time to complete the puzzle. The network of the preferred embodiments may be one of the above variations, but may alternatively be a combination of the above variations or any other suitable variation.
  • The user platform may communicate with the network through a wired connection, for example, through an Ethernet cable through the Internet or within the same room as the user platforms. In this example, the network may be a central computer and the user platform may each be a computer that is connected to the central computer. However, any other suitable arrangement of network may be used. Alternatively, the user platform may communicate with the network through a wireless connection, for example, WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular network, or any other suitable type of wireless communication. However, the user interface and the network may communicate through any other suitable method, means, protocol, or combination of the above. For example, the user platform may communicate to the network through a wired connection while the network communicates back to the user platform through a wireless connection.
  • Puzzle Variations
  • The multistage puzzle S10 of the preferred embodiments is preferably a puzzle to which the answer is known. In a first example, the story provided to the user in Step S110 may include details on the behavior of a person and the unknown element of the multistage puzzle S10 is type of drug that the person may have taken to cause the type of behavior mentioned in the story provided in Step S110 from the information included in the reference provided in Step S120 (as described above in the Exemplary Puzzle). In a second example, the story provided to the user in Step S110 may include details of the life of a historic figure (such as, “I was always taller than everyone else my age,” as a first person point of view detail for Abraham Lincoln) or a historic event (such as “Marie Antoinette was taken to the guillotine” as a detail for the French Revolution) and the unknown element of the multistage puzzle S10 is the historic figure or the historic event that the story is referring to from information in the reference provided in Step S120. In a third example, the story provided to the user in Step S110 may include details of a style of art (such as the abstraction of reality of impressionistic art) or a style of architecture (the building methods used to make the pyramids) and the unknown element of the multistage puzzle S10 is the style of art or architecture from information provided in the reference provided in Step S120. Alternatively, the multistage puzzle S10 may be a puzzle to which no conclusive answer is known. For example, the story provided in Step S110 may include hypotheses of the cause of the disappearance of the Mayan civilization, the cause of the disappearance of the dinosaurs, or whether Big Foot really exists, the reference provided in Step S120 may include known facts about the Mayan civilization, facts on the way the dinosaurs lived, and evidence found on Big Foot, and the unknown element of the multistage puzzle S10 a hypothesis or a conclusion from the hypotheses provided in the story and the information in the reference as to the reason why the Mayan civilization disappeared, what happened to the dinosaurs, and whether the existence of Big Foot is plausible, which at the time of this current application, are both mysteries of history that do not have fully conclusive answers. In this example, by going through the multistage puzzle S10, the user goes through an exercise of analyzing the details of the story and the information from the reference that are provided in order to come up with an argument or an opinion that is supported by the details and information. The user may then use the arguments and opinions that resulted from going through the multistage puzzle S10 to compose a formal essay or any other suitable type of summary.
  • As a person skilled in the art will recognize from the previous detailed description and from the figures and claims, modifications and changes can be made to the preferred embodiments of the invention without departing from the scope of this invention defined in the following claims.

Claims (32)

1. A multi-stage puzzle that guides a user to develop support for an answer to solve and complete the puzzle, comprising:
conducting a note taking stage comprising:
providing a plurality of story pieces that cooperate to tell a story with an unknown element;
providing a plurality of reference pieces that each include information that substantially relates to the story told by the plurality of story pieces;
receiving story pieces and reference pieces selected by the user;
conducting an answer and support presentation stage comprising:
retrieving an answer for the unknown element from the user;
receiving a selected story piece and a selected reference piece from the user and linking the selected story piece and the selected reference piece received when the selected story piece and the selected reference piece are related to form support for the retrieved answer;
hindering the completion of the puzzle based on the received story piece and reference piece selected by the user, the retrieved answer for the unknown element from the user, and received support for the retrieved answer; and
conducting an answer and support evaluation stage comprising:
evaluating the retrieved answer.
2. The method of claim 1, further comprising the step of evaluating the received support for the retrieved answer in the answer and support evaluation stage.
3. The multistage puzzle of claim 1, wherein the step of hindering completion of the puzzle includes preventing completion until a particular score is reached, wherein the score is based on the received story pieces and reference pieces selected by the user, the retrieved answer for the unknown element from the answer, and the received support for the retrieved answer.
4. The multistage puzzle of claim 3, wherein the step of preventing completion of the puzzle includes preventing the user to progress from a first stage to a second stage until a particular score is reached.
5. The multistage puzzle of claim 4, wherein the step of preventing the user to progress from a first stage to a second stage includes preventing the user from progressing from the note taking stage to the answer and support presentation stage until a particular score is reached.
6. The multistage puzzle of claim 4, wherein the step of preventing the user to progress from a first stage to a second stage includes preventing the user from progressing from the answer and support presentation stage to the answer and support evaluation stage until a particular score is reached.
7. The multistage puzzle of claim 3, wherein the step of hindering completion until a particular score is reached includes increasing the score with each additional linkage made to form support for the retrieved answer.
8. The multistage puzzle of claim 3, wherein the step of hindering completion until a particular score is reached includes increasing the score with each additional received selected story piece and reference piece from the user.
9. The multistage puzzle of claim 3, further comprising of assigning a relevance factor to each of the story pieces that is based on the importance of the story told in the story piece relative to the unknown element, and wherein the step of hindering completion until a particular score is reached includes increasing the score with each additional received selected story piece that is assigned a substantially high relevance factor.
10. The multistage puzzle of claim 3, further comprising assigning an importance factor to each of the reference pieces that is based on the importance of the information included in the reference piece relative to the unknown element, and wherein the step of hindering completion until a particular score is reached includes increasing the score with each additional received selected reference piece that is assigned a substantially high importance factor.
11. The multistage puzzle of claim 3, wherein the step of linking the selected story piece and the selected reference piece received includes assigning a linkage correlation factor to the linked story piece and reference piece that is based the relationship between the story told in the selected story piece and the information included in the reference piece, and wherein the step of hindering completion until a particular score is reached includes increasing the score with each additional received linkage that is assigned a substantially high linkage correlation factor.
12. The multistage puzzle of claim 1, wherein the step of providing a plurality of story pieces that cooperate to tell a story with an unknown element includes providing at least a portion of the plurality of story pieces, requesting an input from the user, and providing another portion of the plurality of story pieces when the input is received.
13. The multistage puzzle of claim 12, wherein the step of requesting an input from the user includes requesting the user to submit a question, and wherein the step of providing another portion of the plurality of story pieces includes providing another portion of the plurality of story pieces when the question is received.
14. The multistage puzzle of claim 13, wherein the step of requesting the user to submit a question includes providing a plurality of possible questions and requesting the user to select a particular question and the step of providing another portion of the plurality of story pieces when the question is received includes providing a particular portion of the plurality of story pieces when a particular question is selected by the user.
15. The multistage puzzle of claim 12, wherein the step of requesting an input from the user includes providing a graphic to the user and requesting the user to select a portion of the graphic, and wherein the step of providing another portion of the plurality of story pieces includes providing another portion of the plurality of story pieces when a particular portion of the graphic is selected by the user.
16. The multistage puzzle of claim 12, wherein the step of requesting an input from the user includes providing a laboratory experiment to the user and requesting the user to conduct the experiment, and wherein the step of providing another portion of the plurality of story pieces includes providing another portion of the plurality of story pieces when the laboratory experiment is conducted in a correct manner.
17. The multistage puzzle of claim 16, wherein the step of providing a laboratory experiment to the user includes explaining the correct manner to conduct the laboratory experiment.
18. A method for providing a puzzle and facilitating solving of the puzzle, comprising:
providing a user platform that includes an input device to receive input from the user and an output device to output to the user;
providing a story with an unknown element to the user through the output device;
providing a reference that includes facts that are substantially relevant to the story through the output device;
capturing and transferring observations selected from the user from the story through the user platform that substantially relate to the unknown element;
capturing and transferring facts selected from the user from the reference through the user platform that substantially relate to the unknown element;
linking observations from the story and facts from the reference selected by the user through the user platform; and
facilitating the inference of a solution to the unknown element through the linking of observations from the story and facts from the reference through the user platform.
19. The method of claim 18, further comprising hindering the completion of the puzzle based on the captured observations and facts, the solution, and the linking of observations and facts.
20. The method of claim 19, wherein the step of hindering the completion of the puzzle includes preventing completion until a particular score is reached, wherein the score is based on the number of captured observations and facts, the solution, and the number of linked of observations and facts.
21. The method of claim 18, further comprising providing clues to the user through the user platform that further facilitate the inference of a solution to the unknown element.
22. The method of claim 21, further comprising capturing and transferring observations selected by the user from the clues.
23. The method of claim 18, further comprising evaluating the solution to the unknown element inferred by the user and the linking of observations from the story and facts from the reference and revealing the evaluation to the user.
24. The method of claim 18, further comprising providing assistance to the user in completing the puzzle.
25. The method of claim 24, wherein the step of providing assistance to the user includes providing instructions to the user to complete the puzzle.
26. The method of claim 18, further comprising connecting the user platform to a network and communicating with the network.
27. The method of claim 18, further comprising connecting a plurality of user platforms to a network and receiving a communication from a first user at a first user platform and outputting the communication to a second user at a second user platform.
28. The method of claim 27, wherein the network provides the story and the story with an unknown element and the reference that includes facts to the user platform to present to the user.
29. The method of claim 27, further comprising communicating from the user platform to the network at least one of the captured observations from the story, captured facts from the reference, linkages, and inference of a solution to the unknown element and evaluating the communicated information in the network.
30. The method of claim 29, wherein the step of evaluating the communicated information in the network includes evaluating the relevance of the at least one of the captured observations from the story, captured facts from the reference, linkages, and inference of a solution to the unknown element relative to the unknown element of the story.
31. The method of claim 30, wherein the step of evaluating the relevance of the at least one of the captured observations from the story, captured facts from the reference, linkages, and inference of a solution to the unknown element includes allowing an administrator to view the at least one of the captured observations from the story, captured facts from the reference, linkages, and inference of a solution to the unknown element and evaluating the relevance.
32. The method of claim 30, wherein the step of evaluating the relevance of the at least one of the captured observations from the story, captured facts from the reference, linkages, and inference of a solution to the unknown element includes providing a clue to the user to facilitate the inference of a solution to the unknown element based on the evaluation.
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