Toward a Theory of Impasse-Driven Learning

  • Kurt VanLehn
Part of the Cognitive Science book series (COGNITIVE SCIEN)


Learning is widely viewed as a knowledge communication process coupled with a knowledge compilation process (Anderson, 1985). The communication process interprets instruction, thereby incorporating new information from the environment into the mental structures of the student. Knowledge compilation occurs with practice. It transforms the initial mental structures into a form that makes performance faster and more accurate. Moreover, the transformed mental structures are less likely to be forgotten. At one time, psychology concerned itself exclusively with the compilation process by using such simple stimuli (e.g., nonsense syllables) that the effects of the communication process could be ignored. The work presented here uses more complicated stimuli, the calculational procedures of ordinary arithmetic. For such stimuli, the effects of the knowledge communication process cannot be ignored. Later in this chapter it is shown that certain types of miscommunication can cause students to have erroneous conceptions. The long-term objective of the research reported here is to develop a theory of the neglected half of learning, knowledge communication. The experimental methods employed are designed to show the effects of knowledge communication and hide the effects of knowledge compilation. Consequently, whenever the term learning appears, it is intended to mean knowledge communication.


Intelligent Tutor System Procedural Skill Local Problem Solver Leftmost Column Core Procedure 


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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1988

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  • Kurt VanLehn

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