How Computerized Tutors Are Learning to Teach Humans –

October 12, 2012 at 9:25 am Leave a comment

Nice piece from the NYTimes on how humans tutor and how computers might tutor. I liked the insights below (e.g., “challenge a correct answer if the tutor suspects guessing” might be an excellent approach to deal with possible cheating in MOOC’s), but also liked the interview with Ken Koedinger later in the article which suggests a more data-driven and less heuristic approach to making computer tutors even better than human tutors.

So Heffernan forged ahead, cataloging more than two dozen “moves” Lindquist made to help her students learn (“remind the student of steps they have already completed,” “encourage the student to generalize,” “challenge a correct answer if the tutor suspects guessing”). He incorporated many of these tactics into a computerized tutor — called “Ms. Lindquist” — which became the basis of his doctoral dissertation. When he was hired as an assistant professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, Heffernan continued to work on the program, joined in his efforts by Lindquist, now his wife, who also works at W.P.I. Together they improved the tutor, which they renamed ASSISTments (it assists students while generating an assessment of their progress). Seventeen years after Heffernan first set up his video camera, the computerized tutor he designed has been used by more than 100,000 students, in schools all over the country. “I look at this as just a start,” he told me. But, he added confidently, “we are closing the gap with human tutors.”

via How Computerized Tutors Are Learning to Teach Humans –

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