Does Help Help? A Bayes Net Approach to Modeling Tutor Interventions

Kai-min K. Chang, Joseph E. Beck, Jack Mostow, Albert Corbett.

This paper describes an effort to measure the effectiveness of tutor help in an intelligent tutoring system. Although conventional pre- and post- test experiments can determine whether tutor help is effective, they are expensive to conduct. Furthermore, pre- and post- test experiments often do not model student knowledge explicitly and thus are ignoring a source of information: students often request help about words they do not know. Therefore, we construct a dynamic Bayes net (which we call the Help model) that models tutor help and student knowledge in one coherent framework. The Help model distinguishes two different effects of help: scaffolding immediate performance vs. teaching persistent knowledge that improves long term performance. We train the Help model to fit student performance data gathered from usage of the Reading Tutor. The parameters of the trained model suggest that students benefit from both the scaffolding and teaching effects of help. That is, students are more likely to perform correctly on the current attempt and learn persistent knowledge if tutor help is provided. Thus, our framework is able to distinguish two types of influence that tutor help has on the student, and can determine whether help helps learning without an explicit controlled study.

Subjects: 1.3 Computer-Aided Education; 12. Machine Learning and Discovery

Submitted: May 17, 2006

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