Creating cognitive tutors for collaborative learning: Steps toward realization

Andreas Harrer, Bruce M. McLaren, Erin Walker, Lars Bollen, Jonathan Sewall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Our long-term research goal is to provide cognitive tutoring of collaboration within a collaborative software environment. This is a challenging goal, as intelligent tutors have traditionally focused on cognitive skills, rather than on the skills necessary to collaborate successfully. In this paper, we describe progress we have made toward this goal. Our first step was to devise a process known as bootstrapping novice data (BND), in which student problem-solving actions are collected and used to begin the development of a tutor. Next, we implemented BND by integrating a collaborative software tool, Cool Modes, with software designed to develop cognitive tutors (i.e., the cognitive tutor authoring tools). Our initial implementation of BND provides a means to directly capture data as a foundation for a collaboration tutor but does not yet fully support tutoring. Our next step was to perform two exploratory studies in which dyads of students used our integrated BND software to collaborate in solving modeling tasks. The data collected from these studies led us to identify five dimensions of collaborative and problem-solving behavior that point to the need for abstraction of student actions to better recognize, analyze, and provide feedback on collaboration. We also interviewed a domain expert who provided evidence for the advantage of bootstrapping over manual creation of a collaboration tutor. We discuss plans to use these analyses to inform and extend our tools so that we can eventually reach our goal of tutoring collaboration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-209
Number of pages35
JournalUser Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Action-based analysis
  • Collaboration modeling
  • Collaborative learning
  • Intelligent tutoring systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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