Active Learning in Problem Solving (ALPS)

Students working in Cognitive Tutors (originally built by Carnegie Mellon‘s PACT Center) receive dynamic feedback and help upon request while they are problem-solving, but they are not able to ask conceptual questions that go beyond the problem currently being solved. ALPS is an approach designed to provide students with such a mechanism, by integrating Synthetic Interview technology with the existing Cognitive Tutor. Students can type in any question in their own words, while working in the Tutor, and they receive a pre-recorded video clip in response. Because they are pre-recorded, the designers must get a sense of the types of questions to expect to receive, and how best to categorize and answer them. Preliminary results from this line of work have shown that students ask questions in such a system with heavy emphasis on performance goals. An open future area of research is how to encourage students to ask deeper questions and shift their goals more toward learning.

An Intelligent Tutoring Systems conference paper about the early phases of this work can be found:

  • Anthony, L., Corbett, A., Wagner, A.Z., Stevens, S.M., and Koedinger, K.R. 2004. Student Question-Asking Patterns in an Intelligent Algebra Tutor. Intelligent Tutoring Systems Conference (ITS’2004), Maceio, Brazil, 30 Aug 2004, p.455-467. [pdf]

Until 2004, I helped collect data on student question-asking patterns during tutoring and types of instruction that encourage more active question-asking. The current group’s page is here.

last revised 04/24/2012

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