Date of Original Version

2006

Type

Article

Abstract or Description

The research reported in this paper focuses on the hypothesis that an intelligent tutoring system that provides guidance with respect to students’ meta-cognitive abilities can help them to become better learners. Our strategy is to extend a Cognitive Tutor (Anderson, Corbett, Koedinger, & Pelletier, 1995) so that it not only helps students acquire domain-specific skills, but also develop better general help-seeking strategies. In developing the Help Tutor, we used the same Cognitive Tutor technology at the metacognitive level that has been proven to be very effective at the cognitive level. A key challenge is to develop a model of how students should use a Cognitive Tutor’s help facilities. We created a preliminary model, implemented by 57 production rules that capture both effective and ineffective help-seeking behavior. As a first test of the model’s efficacy, we used it off-line to evaluate students’ help-seeking behavior in an existing data set of student-tutor interactions. We then refined the model based on the results of this analysis. Finally, we conducted a pilot study with the Help Tutor involving four students. During one session, we saw a statistically significant reduction in students’ meta-cognitive error rate, as determined by the Help Tutor’s model. These preliminary results inspire confidence as we gear up for a larger-scale controlled experiment to evaluate whether tutoring on help seeking has a positive effect on students’ learning outcomes.

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