Learning with an algebra computer tutor: What type of hint is best?

AbstractWhile there is substantial evidence showing that assistance provided to students during problem-solving activities influences learning outcomes, it is not yet clear how to best design educational technologies to maximize learning through various types of assistance. One common type of assistance corresponds to hints delivered by an educational technology. To date, however, there is little research on the impact of different types of hints, including high-level hints vs. specific bottom-out hints. Our research takes a step in filling this gap, through an experimental study with an intelligent tutoring system we implemented in the domain of algebra (N = 50). We did not find evidence that the type of hint, high level vs. bottom out, influenced learning, with both types of hints producing similar outcomes. We did, however, find support for the conclusion that the number of hints accessed interacted with the type of hint to influence learning, and specifically, that accessing more hints was correlated with learning but only in the high-level hint condition.

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