Investigation by Design: Developing Dialogue Models to Support Reasoning and Conceptual Change

In IJAIED 11 (3): "Part I of the Special Issue on Analysing Educational Dialogue Interaction "

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Theories of learning suggest that dialogue is important in shaping conceptual development. However, there is widespread debate as to the forms and content of educational dialogue and the roles participants should play in them. In addressing these issues we have adopted an approach of ‘investigation by design'. Based on an examination of dialogue from case studies of tutoring in physics, we have abstracted a semi-natural set of dialogue moves thought to be effective, and designed them into system-user interaction scenarios aimed at supporting learning. This approach focuses on patterns of interaction emerging as possibly effective and refines them to render them computationally tractable. For this we adopt dialogue game theory as a design paradigm. Debating style dialogue games are applied according to a formal pedagogic framework called ‘learning as knowledge refinement'. This specifies a collaborative framework for argumentation aimed at stimulating belief revision, and conceptual change. In this framework the learner adopts the role of an ‘explainer' whilst the system plays a facilitating role and these participants collaborate to develop a shared explanatory model of a qualitative physics domain. A prototype CoLLeGE (Computer based Lab for Language Games in Education) system implements the framework and validates the model. An empirical study using CoLLeGE demonstrates the educational potential of the approach.