When Is Tutorial Dialogue More Effective Than Step-Based Tutoring?

  • Min Chi
  • Pamela Jordan
  • Kurt VanLehn
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8474)


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.


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


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Min Chi
    • 1
  • Pamela Jordan
    • 2
  • Kurt VanLehn
    • 3
  1. 1.Computer Science DepartmentNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Learning Research and Development CenterUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Science EngineeringArizona State UniversityUSA

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