CSSE Seminar Series

Investigating the effect of voluntary use of an intelligent tutoring system on students’ learning


Professor Tanja Mitrovic


Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, University of Canterbury.

Time & Place

Fri, 24 Jul 2020 12:00:00 NZST in Jack Erskine 340.

All are welcome


Numerous controlled studies prove the effectiveness of Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs). But what happens when ITSs are available to students for voluntary practice? EER-Tutor is a mature ITS which was previously found effective in controlled experiments. Students can use EER-Tutor for tutored problem solving, and there is also a special mode allowing students to develop solutions for the course assignment without receiving feedback. We observed two classes of university students using EER-Tutor. In 2018, the system was available for completely voluntary practice. We hypothesized that the students’ pre-existing knowledge and the time spent in EER-Tutor, mediated by the number of attempted problems, contribute to the students’ scores on the assignment. All but one student used EER-Tutor to draw their assignment solutions, and 77% also used it for tutored problem solving. All our hypotheses were confirmed. Given the found benefits of tutored problem solving, we modified the assignment for the 2019 class so that the first part required students to solve three problems in EER-Tutor (without feedback), while the second part was a bigger, open-ended problem. Our hypothesized model fits the data well and shows the positive relationship between the three set problems on the overall system use, and the assignment scores. In 2019, 98% of the class engaged in tutored problem solving. The 2019 class also spent significantly more time in the ITS, solved significantly more problems and achieved higher scores on the assignment.


Antonija (Tanja) Mitrovic is a professor at the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. She is the leader of the Intelligent Computer Tutoring Group. Dr Mitrovic received her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Nis, Yugoslavia, in 1994. She is an associate editor of the International Journal on Artificial Intelligence in Education, and Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning. She has published more than 250 journal and conference papers, and was awarded the Distinguished Researcher Award in 2011 by the Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education. Professor Mitrovic was the President of the International Society for Artificial Intelligence in Education from 2013 to 2015, and is President of the Asia Pacific Society for Computers in Education. Her primary research interests are in AI in education and learning analytics.