AutoTutor: Incorporating back-channel feedback and other human-like conversational behaviors into an intelligent tutoring system

S. Rajan, S. D. Craig, B. Gholson, N. K. Person, A. C. Graesser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


This paper describes our recent attempts to incorporate human-like conversational behaviors into the dialog moves delivered by an animated pedagogical agent that simulates human tutors. We first present a brief overview of the modules comprising AutoTutor, an intelligent tutoring system. The second section describes a set of conversational behaviors that are being incorporated into AutoTutor. The behaviors of interest involve variations in intonation, head movements, arm and hand movements, facial expressions, eye blinking, gaze direction, and back-channel feedback. The final section presents a recent empirical study concerned with back-channel feedback events during human-to-human tutoring sessions. The back-channel feedback events emitted by tutors are mostly positive (63%), mostly verbal (77%), and immediately follow speech-act boundaries or noun-phrase boundaries (83%). Tutors also deliver back-channel events at a very high rate when students are emitting dialog, about 13 events per minute. Conversely, 88% of students' back-channel feedback events are head nods, and they occur at unbounded locations (63%).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-126
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Speech Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2001



  • AutoTutor
  • Back-channel feedback
  • Intelligent tutoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition

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