When is tutorial dialogue more effective than step-based tutoring?

Min Chi, Pamela Jordan, Kurt VanLehn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

14 Scopus citations


It is often assumed that one-on-one dialogue with a tutor, which involves micro-steps, is more effective than conventional step-based tutoring. Although earlier research often has not supported this hypothesis, it may be because tutors often are not good at making micro-step decisions. In this paper, we compare a micro-step based NL-tutoring system that employs induced pedagogical policies, Cordillera, to a well-evaluated step-based ITS, Andes. Our overall conclusion is that the pairing of effective policies with a micro-step based system does significantly outperform a step-based system; however, there is no significant difference in the absence of effective policies. Moreover, while micro-step tutoring is more time-consuming, the findings still hold for five out of six learning performance measures when time on task is factored out.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIntelligent Tutoring Systems - 12th International Conference, ITS 2014, Proceedings
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9783319072203
StatePublished - 2014
Event12th International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems, ITS 2014 - Honolulu, HI, United States
Duration: Jun 5 2014Jun 9 2014

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume8474 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other12th International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems, ITS 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityHonolulu, HI


  • Natural Language tutoring systems
  • Pedagogical Strategy
  • Reinforcement Learning
  • Step-based tutoring systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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