Skip to Main Content
Intelligent tutoring systems (ITSs), which provide step-by-step guidance to students in complex problem-solving activities, have been shown to enhance student learning in a range of domains. However, they tend to be difficult to build. Our project investigates whether the process of authoring an ITS can be simplified, while at the same time maintaining the characteristics that make ITS effective, and also maintaining the ability to support large-scale tutor development. Specifically, our project tests whether authoring tools based on programming-by-demonstration techniques (developed in prior research) can support the development of a large-scale, real-world tutor. We are creating an open-access Web site, called Mathtutor (http://webmathtutor.org), where middle school students can solve math problems with step-by-step guidance from ITS. The Mathtutor site fields example-tracing tutors, a novel type of ITS that are built "by demonstration," without programming, using the cognitive tutor authoring tools (CTATs). The project's main contribution will be that it represents a stringent test of large-scale tutor authoring through programming by demonstration. A secondary contribution will be that it tests whether an open-access site (i.e., a site that is widely and freely available) with software tutors for math learning can attract and sustain user interest and learning on a large scale.
Date of Publication: April-June 2009