This volume's goal is to begin to document the dialogue processes in naturally-occurring human tutoring, in the context of informing the design of intelligent tutoring systems, and of interactive systems in general. This project represents the first empirical study of human tutorial dialogue from a conversation analytic perspective -- the conversational interaction is the focus of analysis rather than larger scale techniques for teaching. It is also the first study of tutoring to make use of large quantities of carefully transcribed tutoring conversations/dialogues.
The motivation for this focus comes from two sources: First, although all tutoring systems have implicit theory or theories of minute-level interaction built into them, little research has been done to form an empirical foundation for such theories. Therefore, current systems tend to be based on the designers' intuitions rather than on data. This fact almost certainly makes systems unnecessarily brittle in actual use. Second, of the small but growing collection of empirical studies of tutoring, almost all have been designed and carried out by computer scientists, whose training naturally leads them to be concerned with interaction at the level of knowledge transfer and teaching techniques. Fox's training as a linguist brings attention to the minute-by-minute details of the interaction, in particular to the processes that bring the interaction into existence and allow it to develop relatively smoothly.
"Fox has done a fine job of bringing the highlights of CA to the attention of researchers working in computer-assisted learning. Without overloading details, she has emphasized the most useful aspects of CA for computer scientists….an insightful first step for those interested in the application of CA to computer-assisted learning."
—Language in Society
"…the findings of this study will be of interest to a range of scholars beyond just those in intelligent system design. In particular, anyone working in discourse (especially in conversation analysis), in education and social learning theory, or in communication will also find this book of interest."
—Functions of Language
"…represents an important and original contribution to the project of building a foundational understanding for the design of computer-based instructional systems. It will be of interest to a broad range of readers in communications research, the learning sciences, and human-computer interaction and intelligent tutoring systems design. Its particular relevance to the HCI and ITS researcher turns on the fact that it presents very general findings through a detailed analysis of the interactional organization of one-to-one tutoring practice. I know of no comparable empirical analysis of the structuring of tutorial interaction."
—Dr. Lucy Suchman
Xerox Palo Alto Research Center
Contents: Preface. Introduction. Methodology. Tutoring Dialogue Structure. Openings. Correction in Tutoring. Interaction as a Diagnostic Resource in Tutoring. The Target of Tutoring. Bandwidth. Indeterminacy and Rules. Conclusions.