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2006Research Conference | June 15–16

This conference highlighted the work of invited speakers, independent researchers who have received grant funds from the Institute of Education Sciences, and trainees supported through predoctoral training grants and postdoctoral fellowships. The presentations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education or the Institute of Education Sciences.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
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The Help Tutor: Improving Students' Help-seeking Behavior While Working with Intelligent Tutoring Systems

Ido Roll, Carnegie Mellon University
Vincent Aleven, Carnegie Mellon University
Bruce M. McLaren, Carnegie Mellon University
Eunjeong Ryu, Carnegie Mellon University
Kenneth R. Koedinger, Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract: Intelligent tutoring systems typically offer help to students in the form of context-specific hints. However, students often fail to make optimal use of this information. Instead, they tend to make a wide-spectrum of errors concerning help: sometimes avoiding needed help, or abusing redundant information. Our hypothesis is that students lack the requisite metacognitive knowledge that would enable them to use the information provided by intelligent tutors more effectively. In this poster we describe project aimed at improving this important aspect of students' metacognitive decisions while using Intelligent Tutoring Systems - their help-seeking behavior.

We have constructed a computer-based system called the "Help-Tutor" - a domain-independent tutor-agent that can be added as an adjunct to any Cognitive Tutor. The Help-Tutor teaches better help-seeking skills by tracing students' actions on a (meta)cognitive model and giving immediate tailored feedback to students after they perform a help-seeking related error.

In a classroom evaluation of the Help-Tutor, The Help-Tutor captured help-seeking errors that were associated with poorer learning. The faulty behavior captured by the Help-Tutor also transferred to a paper-and-pencil environment, suggesting that such behavior is not tied to specific environment. While working with the tutor, students improved their help-seeking actions and committed less errors. However, we do not yet have firm evidence that students learned the intended help-seeking skills, or learned the domain knowledge better.

A new version of the tutor that includes a self-reflection component and explicit help-seeking instruction, complementary to the metacognitive feedback, is now being evaluated.