Mind Wandering During Learning with an Intelligent Tutoring System

  • Caitlin MillsEmail author
  • Sidney D’Mello
  • Nigel Bosch
  • Andrew M. Olney
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9112)


Mind wandering (zoning out) can be detrimental to learning outcomes in a host of educational activities, from reading to watching video lectures, yet it has received little attention in the field of intelligent tutoring systems (ITS). In the current study, participants self-reported mind wandering during a learning session with Guru, a dialogue-based ITS for biology. On average, participants interacted with Guru for 22 minutes and reported an average of 11.5 instances of mind wandering, or one instance every two minutes. The frequency of mind wandering was compared across five different phases of Guru (Common-Ground-Building Instruction, Intermittent Summary, Concept Map, Scaffolded Dialogue, and Cloze task), each requiring different learning strategies. The rate of mind wandering per minute was highest during the Common-Ground-Building Instruction and Scaffolded Dialogue phases of Guru. Importantly, there was significant negative correlation between mind wandering and learning, highlighting the need to address this phenomena during learning with ITSs.


Mind wandering Intelligent tutoring Engagement Attention 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caitlin Mills
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sidney D’Mello
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nigel Bosch
    • 2
  • Andrew M. Olney
    • 3
  1. 1.Departments of PsychologyUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA
  2. 2.Computer ScienceUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Intelligent SystemsUniversity of MemphisMemphisUSA

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