Initiative In Tutorial Dialogue

Mark G. Core, Johanna Moore, Claus Zinn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


One-on-one human tutoring has been shown to be a very effective method of instruction. Many researchers have argued that good human tutors encourage knowledge construction by getting students to do as much of the work as possible and to maintain a feeling of control, while providing students with enough guidance to keep them from becoming too frustrated or confused.
So-called "Socratic tutoring" has been proposed as the best way to accomplish these tasks. To implement Socratic tutoring in a dialogue-based ITS we must understand it in terms of the features that characterize dialogue systems such as: dialogue strategies, initiative management, dialogue acts, and turn taking. In this work we investigate initiative in tutorial dialogue by comparing tutoring sessions with a Socratic style to sessions with a didactic tutoring style. Results show that the Socratic dialogues were more interactive than the didactic dialogues; on average students spoke more in the Socratic condition, and tutors asked more questions and made fewer statements. Students learned more in the Socratic condition but due to small student numbers this can only be regarded as a trend. Surprisingly, students took more initiative in the didactic dialogues; unlike we expected, student initiative was not the key element that makes Socratic tutoring effective.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication ITS 2002 Workshop on Empirical Methods for Tutorial Dialogue Systems , San Sebastian, Spain
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2002


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