Multiple Agent Designs in Conversational Intelligent Tutoring Systems

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This article describes designs that use multiple conversational agents within the framework of intelligent tutoring systems. Agents in this case are computerized talking heads or embodied animated avatars that help students learn by performing actions and holding conversations with them in natural language. The earliest conversational intelligent tutoring systems were limited to a single agent that interacted with a student in the role of a teacher or expert. Technological advances have since made possible systems in which multiple agents interact with the learner and each other to model ideal behavior, strategies, reflections, and social interactions. Though still an emerging technology, multi-agent intelligent tutoring systems afford pedagogical benefits that go beyond the capabilities of the single-agent system and have facilitated learning gains on a variety of subject matters and skills, including science, technology, engineering, mathematics, research methods, metacognition, and language comprehension. The present work describes some common multi-agent designs that may be used to achieve a variety of pedagogical goals. We provide examples of how these designs have been implemented in educational or experimental settings and anticipate future use within the field of artificial intelligence.

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