Towards Academically Productive Talk Supported by Conversational Agents

  • Gregory Dyke
  • David Adamson
  • Iris Howley
  • Carolyn Penstein Rosé
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7315)


In this paper, we investigate the use of conversational agents to scaffold on-line collaborative learning discussions through an approach called academically productive talk. In contrast to past work, which has involved using agents to elevate the conceptual depth of collaborative discussion by leading students in groups through directed lines of reasoning, this approach lets students follow their own lines of reasoning and promotes productive practices such as explaining, stating agreement and disagreement, and reading and revoicing the statements of other students. We contrast two types of academically productive talk support for a discussion about 9th grade biology and show that one type in particular has a positive effect on the overall conversation, while the other is worse than no support. This positive effect carries over onto participation in a full-class discussion the following day. We use a sociolinguistic style analysis to investigate how the two types of support influence the discussion and draw conclusions for redesign. In particular, our findings have implications for how dynamic micro-scripting agents such as those scaffolding academically productive talk can be used in consort with more static macro- and micro- scripting.


conversational agents discussion scaffolding collaboration scripting 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Adamson, D., Rosé, C.P.: Coordinating Multi-dimensional Support in Collaborative Conversational Agents. In: Cerri, S.A., Clancey, B. (eds.) ITS 2012. LNCS, vol. 7315, pp. 347–352. Springer, Heidelberg (2012)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ai, H., Kumar, R., Nguyen, D., Nagasunder, A., Rosé, C.P.: Exploring the Effectiveness of Social Capabilities and Goal Alignment in Computer Supported Collaborative Learning. In: Aleven, V., Kay, J., Mostow, J. (eds.) ITS 2010. LNCS, vol. 6095, pp. 134–143. Springer, Heidelberg (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Berkowitz, M., Gibbs, J.: Measuring the developmental features of moral discussion. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 29, 399–410 (1983)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Chaudhuri, S., Kumar, R., Howley, I., Rosé, C.P.: Engaging Collaborative Learners with Helping Agents. Submitted to Artificial Intelligence in Education (2009)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dyke, G., Lund, K., Girardot, J.-J.: Tatiana: an environment to support the CSCL analysis process. In: CSCL 2009, Rhodes, Greece, pp. 58–67 (2009)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Howley, I., Chaudhuri, S., Kumar, R., Rosé, C.P.: Motivation and Collaboration On-Line. Submitted to Artificial Intelligence in Education (2009)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Howley, I., Mayfield, E., Rosé, C.P.: Missing Something? Authority in Collaborative Learning. In: Proceedings of Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (2011)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kumar, R., Rosé, C.P., Wang, Y.C., Joshi, M., Robinson, A.: Tutorial Dialogue as Adaptive Collaborative Learning Support. In: Proceedings of Artificial Intelligence in Education (2007)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kumar, R., Ai, H., Beuth, J.L., Rosé, C.P.: Socially Capable Conversational Tutors Can Be Effective in Collaborative Learning Situations. In: Aleven, V., Kay, J., Mostow, J. (eds.) ITS 2010. LNCS, vol. 6094, pp. 156–164. Springer, Heidelberg (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kumar, R., Rosé, C.P.: Architecture for building Conversational Agents that support Collaborative Learning. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies Special Issue on Intelligent and Innovative Support Systems for Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (in press) Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Martin, J., White, P.: The Language of Evaluation: Appraisal in English. Palgrave (2005)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Michaels, S., O’Connor, C., Resnick, L.B.: Deliberative discourse idealized and realized: Accountable talk in the classroom and in civic life. Studies in Philosophy and Education (2007)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Resnick, L.B., Bill, V., Lesgold, S.: Developing thinking abilities in arithmetic class. In: Demetriou, A., Shayer, M., Efklides, A. (eds.) Neo-Piagetian Theories of Cognitive Development: Implications and Applications for Education, pp. 210–230. Routledge, London (1992)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Resnick, L., O’Connor, C., Michaels, S.: Classroom Discourse, Mathematical Rigor, and Student Reasoning: An Accountable Talk Literature Review (2007)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Weinberger, A., Fischer, F.: A framework to analyze argumentative knowledge construction in computer supported collaborative learning. Computers & Education 46, 71–95 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory Dyke
    • 1
  • David Adamson
    • 1
  • Iris Howley
    • 1
  • Carolyn Penstein Rosé
    • 1
  1. 1.Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

Personalised recommendations