Patterns of Adults with Low Literacy Skills Interacting with an Intelligent Tutoring System

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A common goal of Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) is to provide learning environments that adapt to the varying abilities and characteristics of users. This type of adaptivity is possible only if the ITS has information that characterizes the learning behaviors of its users and can adjust its pedagogy accordingly. This study investigated an intelligent tutoring system with computer agents (AutoTutor) designed to improve comprehension skills in adults with low reading literacy. One goal of this study was to classify adults into different clusters based on their behavioral patterns (accuracy and response time to answer questions) while they interacted with AutoTutor to help them improve their reading comprehension skills. A second goal was to investigate whether adults’ behaviors were associated with different reading components. A third goal was to assess improvements in reading comprehension skills, based on psychometric tests, of different clusters of readers. Performance on AutoTutor was collected in a targeted 100-hour hybrid intervention for adult readers (n = 252) that included both human teachers and the AutoTutor system. The adults’ average accuracy and response time in AutoTutor were used to cluster the adults into four categories: higher performers (comparatively fast and accurate), conscientious readers (slow but accurate), under-engaged readers (fast at the expense of somewhat lower accuracy) and struggling readers (slow and inaccurate). Two psychometric tests of comprehension were used to assess comprehension. Gains in comprehension scores were highest for conscientious readers, lowest for struggling readers, with higher performing readers and under-engaged readers in between. The results provide guidance to enhance the adaptivity of AutoTutor.

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