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Title page for ETD etd-11282005-152744

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Katzlberger, Thomas
URN etd-11282005-152744
Title Learning by Teaching Agents
Degree PhD
Department Computer Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Professor Gautam Biswas Committee Chair
Professor Bethany Rittle-Johnson Committee Member
Professor David Noelle Committee Member
Professor Dough Fisher Committee Member
Professor John Bransford Committee Member
Professor Steven Schach Committee Member
  • Peer learning
  • Mathematics Learning
  • Middle-school mathematics
  • Intelligent Learning Environment
  • Peer tutoring
  • Computer Agents
  • Intelligent agents (Computer software)
  • Computer-assisted instruction
  • Mathematics -- Study and teaching (Middle school)
Date of Defense 2004-12-01
Availability unrestricted
We present the design and implementation of an intelligent learning environment using an innovative multi-agent architecture scheme derived from the learning by teaching paradigm. Sixth grade students, who are domain-novices, take on the challenge of teaching a computer-based software agent how to solve distance-rate-time problems by constructing graphs, and learn about the domain in this process.

The system was evaluated in a Metro Nashville 6th grade classroom. Our experiments con-trasted the learning, transfer, and motivation of students in two conditions: (1) those who learnt for themselves and (2) those who learnt by teaching agents within our environment. Our results showed that both groups improved in their word problem solving abilities, but there were no sig-nificant differences in the performance of the two groups. However, students in the learning by teaching condition demonstrated more motivation to learn, and showed better ability to transfer their knowledge of rate problems to a second domain. The motivation to learn was derived from self-reporting measures that included higher task value, self-regulation, self-efficacy, and critical thinking. The ability to transfer was measured in terms of students performance on rate problems associated with filling measurement cylinders with water. In addition, a survey conducted at the end of the study established that students who taught reported that they liked the system better and had more fun using it for problem solving tasks. However, we also found that our implemen-tation of the learning by teaching approach resulted in the students having to spend a lot of addi-tional time in interacting with the teachable agent using menu-based dialog structures. This is an issue that we will address in future designs of this system. Overall, the results of our study con-firmed that interacting with teachable social agents had influenced middle school students posi-tively, which also confirmed the viability of the learning by teaching agents approach and our design of the teachable agent.

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