MODELLING HUMAN TEACHING TACTICS AND STRATEGIES FOR TUTORING SYSTEMS
12 (3): "Special Issue on Modelling Teaching "
One of the promises of ITSs and ILEs is that they will teach and assist learning
in an intelligent manner. Historically this has tended to mean concentrating on the interface,
on the representation of the domain and on the representation of the student's knowledge. So
systems have attempted to provide students with reifications both of what is to be learned and
of the learning process, as well as optimally sequencing and adjusting activities, problems and
feedback to best help them learn that domain.
We now have embodied (and disembodied) teaching agents and computer-based peers, and
the field demonstrates a much greater interest in metacognition and in collaborative activities
and tools to support that collaboration. Nevertheless the issue of the teaching competence of
ITSs and ILEs is still important, as well as the more specific question as to whether systems can
and should mimic human teachers. Indeed increasing interest in embodied agents has thrown
the spotlight back on how such agents should behave with respect to learners.
In the mid 1980s Ohlsson and others offered critiques of ITSs and ILEs in terms of the
limited range and adaptability of their teaching actions as compared to the wealth of tactics and
strategies employed by human expert teachers. So are we in any better position in modelling
teaching than we were in the 80s? Are these criticisms still as valid today as they were then?
This paper reviews progress in understanding certain aspects of human expert teaching and
in developing tutoring systems that implement those human teaching strategies and tactics. It
concentrates particularly on how systems have dealt with student answers and how they have
dealt with motivational issues, referring particularly to work carried out at Sussex: for example,
on responding effectively to the student's motivational state, on contingent and Vygotskian inspired
teaching strategies and on the plausibility problem. This latter is concerned with whether
tactics that are effectively applied by human teachers can be as effective when embodied in