Encouraging Student Reflection and Articulation using a Learning Companion

In IJAIED 9 (2): "Special Issue on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning "

Publication information


Intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) provide students with individualized instruction and coached practice in an interactive environment that fosters active learning. A different paradigm, also having the potential to significantly improve learning, is collaborative learning. Classroom learning improves significantly when students participate in structured learning activities in small groups of peers. The educational value of student collaboration has led to the development of computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) tools. These tools provide an exceptional learning environment but require at least two participants and do not offer students the type of individualized assistance and guidance available in an ITS. A simulated learning companion, acting as a peer in an intelligent tutoring environment ensures the availability of a collaborator and encourages the student to learn collaboratively, while drawing upon the instructional advantages that ITSs provide. The learning companion we designed encourages the student to reflect on and articulate his past actions, and to discuss his future intentions and their consequences. This paper describes the issues raised in designing a learning companion for an existing ITS, and the benefits gained from this union.