Encouraging Student Reflection and Articulation using a Learning Companion
9 (2): "Special Issue on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning "
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.