Teachable Agents: Learning by Teaching Environments for Science Domains

Krittaya Leelawong, Karun Viswanath, Joan Davis, Gautam Biswas, Nancy Vye, Kadira Belynne, and John Bransford

The crisis in science education and the need for in-novative computer-based learning environments has prompted us to develop a multi-agent system, Betty’s Brain that implements the learning by teaching paradigm. The design and implementation of the system based on cognitive science and education research in constructivist, inquiry-based learning, involves an intelligent software agent, Betty, that students teach using concept map repre-sentations with a visual interface. Betty is intelli-gent not because she learns on her own, but because she can apply qualitative-reasoning techniques to answer questions that are directly related to what she has been taught. The results of an extensive study in a fifth grade classroom of a Nashville pub-lic school has demonstrated impressive results in terms of improved motivation and learning gains. Reflection on the results has prompted us to de-velop a new version of this system that focuses on formative assessment and the teaching of self-regulated strategies to improve students’ learning, and promote better understanding and transfer.

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