An iterative-style approach to constructing intelligent tutoring systems in mathematics

  • Hyacinth S. Nwana

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Mathematics is highly structured and also underpins most of science and
    engineering. For this reason, it has proved a very suitable domain for Intelligent
    Tutoring System (ITS) research, with the result that probably more tutoring systems have been constructed for the domain than any other. However, the literature reveals that there still exists no consensus on a credible approach or approaches for the design of such systems, despite numerous documented efforts. Current approaches to the construction of ITSs leave much to be desired. Consequently, existing ITSs in the domain suffer from a considerable number of shortcomings which render them 'unintelligent'.
    The thesis examines some of the reasons why this is the case. Following a critical
    review of existing ITSs in the domain, and some pilot studies, an alternative
    approach to their construction is proposed (the 'iterative-style' approach); this
    supports an iterative style, and also improves on at least some of the shortcomings of existing approaches.
    The thesis also presents an ITS for fractions which has been developed using this
    approach, and which has been evaluated in various ways. It has, demonstrably,
    improved on many of the limitations of existing ITSs; furthermore, it has been
    shown to be largely 'intelligent', at least more so than current tutors for the domain. Perhaps more significantly, the tutor has also been evaluated against real students with, so far, very encouraging results.
    The thesis thus concludes that the novel iterative-style approach is a more credible approach to the construction of ITSs in mathematics than existing techniques.
    Date of AwardMay 1989
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorPeter Coxhead (Supervisor)


    • intelligent tutoring systems
    • artificial intelligence
    • computer-assisted instruction
    • bug theories
    • fractions

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