AAAI Publications, Twenty-Fourth International FLAIRS Conference

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Patterns of Word Usage in Expert Tutoring Sessions: Verbosity versus Quality
Sidney D'Mello

Last modified: 2011-03-21


It is widely acknowledged that one-on-one human tutoring is one of the most effective ways to provide learning, however, the source of its effectiveness is still unclear. Tutor-centered, student-centered, and interaction hypotheses have been proposed as possible explanations of the effectiveness of human tutoring. Most research has addressed this question by analyzing tutorial sessions at the dialogue move or speech act level. The present paper adopts a different approach by focusing on word usage patterns in 50 naturalistic tutorial sessions between human students and expert tutors. Specifically, each unique word in the session was designated as a student initiative word, a tutor initiative word, or a shared-initiative word. Comparisons of the frequencies as well as the weights of the words assigned to each of these categories indicated that the student and tutor share initiative even though the tutor’s are considerably more verbose. The implications of the results for the development of an ITS that aspires to model expert tutors are discussed.

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