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Toward tutoring help seeking: Applying cognitive modeling to meta-cognitive skills

By Vincent Aleven, Bruce Mclaren, Ido Roll and Kenneth Koedinger


Abstract. The goal of our research is to investigate whether a Cognitive Tutor can be made more effective by extending it to help students acquire help-seeking skills. We present a preliminary model of help-seeking behavior that will provide the basis for a Help-Seeking Tutor Agent. The model, implemented by 57 production rules, captures both productive and unproductive 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 found that 72% of all student actions represented unproductive help-seeking behavior. Consistent with some of our earlier work (Aleven & Koedinger, 2000) we found a proliferation of hint abuse (e.g., using hints to find answers rather than trying to understand). We also found that students frequently avoided using help when it was likely to be of benefit and often acted in a quick, possibly undeliberate manner. Students’ help-seeking behavior accounted for as much variance in their learning gains as their performance at the cognitive level (i.e., the errors that they made with the tutor). These findings indicate that the help-seeking model needs to be adjusted, but they also underscore the importance of the educational need that the Help-Seeking Tutor Agent aims to address.

Year: 2004
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