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ERIC Number: EJ1006957
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jan
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0360-1315
Does Supporting Multiple Student Strategies Lead to Greater Learning and Motivation? Investigating a Source of Complexity in the Architecture of Intelligent Tutoring Systems
Waalkens, Maaike; Aleven, Vincent; Taatgen, Niels
Computers & Education, v60 n1 p159-171 Jan 2013
Intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) support students in learning a complex problem-solving skill. One feature that makes an ITS architecturally complex, and hard to build, is support for strategy freedom, that is, the ability to let students pursue multiple solution strategies within a given problem. But does greater freedom mean that students learn more robustly? We developed three versions of the same ITS for solving linear algebraic equations that differed only in the amount of freedom given to students. One condition required students to strictly adhere to a standard strategy, the other two allowed minor and major variations, respectively. We conducted a study in two US middle schools with 57 students in grades 7 and 8. Overall, students' algebra skills improved. Contrary to our hypotheses, the amount of freedom offered by the system did not affect students' learning outcomes, nor did if affect their intrinsic motivation. Students tended to use only the standard strategy and its minor variations. Thus, the study suggests that in the early stages of problem-solving practice within a complex domain, an ITS should allow at least a small amount of freedom, validating, albeit to a limited degree, one source of complexity in ITS architectures. To help students develop strategic flexibility, a desirable outcome in many domains, more is needed than letting students chose their own solution strategy within a given problem. (Contains 8 tables and 4 figures.)
Elsevier. 3251 Riverport Lane, Maryland Heights, MO 63043. Tel: 800-325-4177; Tel: 314-447-8000; Fax: 314-447-8033; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Grade 7; Grade 8; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A