An evaluation of a hybrid language understanding approach for robust selection of tutoring goals

Carolyn Rosé, Kurt Van Lehn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


In this paper, we explore the problem of selecting appropriate interventions for students based on an analysis of their interactions with a tutoring system. In the context of the WHY2 conceptual physics tutoring system, we describe CarmelTC, a hybrid symbolic/statistical approach for analysing conceptual physics explanations in order to determine which Knowledge Construction Dialogues (KCDs) students need for the purpose of encouraging them to include important points that are missing. We briefly describe our tutoring approach. We then present a model that demonstrates a general problem with selecting interventions based on an analysis of student performance in circumstances where there is uncertainty with the interpretation, such as with speech or text based natural language input, complex and error prone mathematical or other formal language input, graphical input (i.e., diagrams, etc.), or gestures. In particular, when student performance completeness is high, intervention selection accuracy is more sensitive to analysis accuracy, and increasingly so as performance completeness increases. In light of this model, we have evaluated our CarmelTC approach and have demonstrated that it performs favourably in comparison with the widely used LSA approach, a Naive Bayes approach, and finally a purely symbolic approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-355
Number of pages31
JournalInternational Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Evaluation
  • Language understanding
  • Tutorial dialogue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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