skip to main content

Title: Personalized Robot Tutoring using the Assistive Tutor POMDP (AT-POMDP)
Selecting appropriate tutoring help actions that account for both a student’s content mastery and engagement level is essential for effective human tutors, indicating the critical need for these skills in autonomous tutors. In this work, we formulate the robot-student tutoring help action selection problem as the Assistive Tutor partially observable Markov decision process (AT-POMDP). We designed the AT-POMDP and derived its parameters based on data from a prior robot-student tutoring study. The policy that results from solving the ATPOMDP allows a robot tutor to decide upon the optimal tutoring help action to give a student, while maintaining a belief of the student’s mastery of the material and engagement with the task. This approach is validated through a between-subjects field study, which involved 4th grade students (n = 28) interacting with a social robot solving long division problems over five sessions. Students who received help from a robot using the AT-POMDP policy demonstrated significantly greater learning gains than students who received help from a robot with a fixed help action selection policy. Our results demonstrate that this robust computational framework can be used effectively to deliver diverse and personalized tutoring support over time for students.
Authors:
; ;
Award ID(s):
1813651
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10105988
Journal Name:
AAAI
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Determining when and whether to provide personalized support is a well-known challenge called the assistance dilemma. A core problem in solving the assistance dilemma is the need to discover when students are unproductive so that the tutor can intervene. Such a task is particularly challenging for open-ended domains, even those that are well-structured with defined principles and goals. We present a set of datadriven methods to classify, predict, and prevent unproductive problem-solving steps in the well-structured open-ended domain of logic. This approach leverages and extends the Hint Factory, a set of methods that leverages prior student solution attempts to buildmore »data-driven intelligent tutors. We present a HelpNeed classification that uses prior student data to determine when students are likely to be unproductive and need help learning optimal problem-solving strategies. We present a controlled study to determine the impact of an Adaptive pedagogical policy that provides proactive hints at the start of each step based on the outcomes of our HelpNeed predictor: productive vs. unproductive. Our results show that the students in the Adaptive condition exhibited better training behaviors, with lower help avoidance, and higher help appropriateness (a higher chance of receiving help when it was likely to be needed), as measured using the HelpNeed classifier, when compared to the Control. Furthermore, the results show that the students who received Adaptive hints based on HelpNeed predictions during training significantly outperform their Control peers on the posttest, with the former producing shorter, more optimal solutions in less time. We conclude with suggestions on how these HelpNeed methods could be applied in other well-structured open-ended domains.« less
  2. The effectiveness of Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs) often depends upon their pedagogical strategies, the policies used to decide what action to take next in the face of alternatives. We induce policies based on two general Reinforcement Learning (RL) frameworks: POMDP &. MDP, given the limited feature space. We conduct an empirical study where the RL-induced policies are compared against a random yet reasonable policy. Results show that when the contents are controlled to be equal, the MDP-based policy can improve students’ learning significantly more than the random baseline while the POMDP-based policy cannot outperform the later. The possible reason ismore »that the features selected for the MDP framework may not be the optimal feature space for POMDP.« less
  3. Over the past two decades, educators have used computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) to integrate technology with pedagogy to improve student engagement and learning outcomes. Researchers have also explored the diverse affordances of CSCL, its contributions to engineering instruction, and its effectiveness in K-12 STEM education. However, the question of how students use CSCL resources in undergraduate engineering classrooms remains largely unexplored. This study examines the affordances of a CSCL environment utilized in a sophomore dynamics course with particular attention given to the undergraduate engineering students’ use of various CSCL resources. The resources include a course lecturebook, instructor office hours, amore »teaching assistant help room, online discussion board, peer collaboration, and demonstration videos. This qualitative study uses semi-structured interview data collected from nine mechanical engineering students (four women and five men) who were enrolled in a dynamics course at a large public research university in Eastern Canada. The interviews focused on the individual student’s perceptions of the school, faculty, students, engineering courses, and implemented CSCL learning environment. The thematic analysis was conducted to analyze the transcribed interviews using a qualitative data analysis software (Nvivo). The analysis followed a six step process: (1) reading interview transcripts multiple times and preliminary in vivo codes; (2) conducting open coding by coding interesting or salient features of the data; (3) collecting codes and searching for themes; (4) reviewing themes and creating a thematic map; (5) finalizing themes and their definitions; and (6) compiling findings. This study found that the students’ use of CSCL resources varied depending on the students’ personal preferences, as well as their perceptions of the given resource’s value and its potential to enhance their learning. For example, the dynamics lecturebook, which had been redesigned to encourage problem solving and note-taking, fostered student collaborative problem solving with their peers. In contrast, the professor’s example video solutions had much more of an influence on students’ independent problem-solving processes. The least frequently used resource was the course’s online discussion forum, which could be used as a means of communication. The findings reveal how computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) environments enable engineering students to engage in multiple learning opportunities with diverse and flexible resources to both address and to clarify their personal learning needs. This study strongly recommends engineering instructors adapt a CSCL environment for implementation in their own unique classroom context.« less
  4. Do students retain the programming concepts they have learned using software tutors over the long term? In order to answer this question, we analyzed the data collected by a software tutor on selection statements. We used the data of the students who used the tutor more than once to see whether they had retained for the second session what they had learned during the first session. We found that students retained over 71% of selection concepts that they had learned during the first session. The more problems students solved during the first session, the greater the percentage of retention. Evenmore »when students already knew a concept and did not benefit from using the tutor, a small percentage of concepts were for-gotten from the first session to the next, corresponding to transience of learning. Transience of learning varied with concepts. We list confounding factors of the study.« less
  5. Autonomous educational social robots can be used to help promote literacy skills in young children. Such robots, which emulate the emotive, perceptual, and empathic abilities of human teachers, are capable of replicating some of the benefits of one-on-one tutoring from human teachers, in part by leveraging individual student’s behavior and task performance data to infer sophisticated models of their knowledge. These student models are then used to provide personalized educational experiences by, for example, determining the optimal sequencing of curricular material. In this paper, we introduce an integrated system for autonomously analyzing and assessing children’s speech and pronunciation in themore »context of an interactive word game between a social robot and a child. We present a novel game environment and its computational formulation, an integrated pipeline for capturing and analyzing children’s speech in real-time, and an autonomous robot that models children’s word pronunciation via Gaussian Process Regression (GPR), augmented with an Active Learning protocol that informs the robot’s behavior. We show that the system is capable of autonomously assessing children’s pronunciation ability, with ground truth determined by a post-experiment evaluation by human raters. We also compare phoneme- and word-level GPR models and discuss trade-offs of each approach in modeling children’s pronunciation. Finally, we describe and analyze a pipeline for automatic analysis of children’s speech and pronunciation, including an evaluation of Speech Ace as a tool for future development of autonomous, speech-based language tutors.« less