SKOPE-IT (Shareable Knowledge Objects as Portable Intelligent Tutors): overlaying natural language tutoring on an adaptive learning system for mathematics


Background: This study investigated learning outcomes and user perceptions from interactions with a hybrid intelligent tutoring system created by combining the AutoTutor conversational tutoring system with the Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces (ALEKS) adaptive learning system for mathematics. This hybrid intelligent tutoring system (ITS) uses a service-oriented architecture to combine these two web-based systems. Self-explanation tutoring dialogs were used to talk students through step-by-step worked examples to algebra problems. These worked examples presented an isomorphic problem to the preceding algebra problem that the student could not solve in the adaptive learning system. Results: Due to crossover issues between conditions, experimental versus control condition assignment did not show significant differences in learning gains. However, strong dose-dependent learning gains were observed that could not be otherwise explained by either initial mastery or time-on-task. User perceptions of the dialog-based tutoring were mixed, and survey results indicate that this may be due to the pacing of dialog-based tutoring using voice, students judging the agents based on their own performance (i.e., the quality of their answers to agent questions), and the students’ expectations about mathematics pedagogy (i.e., expecting to solving problems rather than talking about concepts). Across all users, learning was most strongly influenced by time spent studying, which correlated with students’ self-reported tendencies toward effort avoidance, effective study habits, and beliefs about their ability to improve in mathematics with effort. Conclusions: Integrating multiple adaptive tutoring systems with complementary strengths shows some potential to improve learning. However, managing learner expectations during transitions between systems remains an open research area. Finally, while personalized adaptation can improve learning efficiency, effort and time-on-task for learning remains a dominant factor that must be considered by interventions.

Publication Title

International Journal of STEM Education