A paradigm for handwriting-based intelligent tutors
International Journal of Human-Computer Studies
This paper presents the interaction design of, and demonstration of technical feasibility for, intelligent tutoring systems that can accept handwriting input from students. Handwriting and pen input offer several affordances for students that traditional typing-based interactions do not. To illustrate these affordances, we present evidence, from tutoring mathematics, that the ability to enter problem solutions via pen input enables students to record algebraic equations more quickly, more
... ly (fewer errors), and with increased transfer to non-computer-based tasks. Furthermore our evidence shows that students tend to like pen input for these types of problems more than typing. However, a clear downside to introducing handwriting input into intelligent tutors is that the recognition of such input is not reliable. In our work, we have found that handwriting input is more likely to be useful and reliable when context is considered, for example, the context of the problem being solved. We present an intelligent tutoring system for algebra equation solving via pen-based input that is able to use context to decrease recognition errors by 18% and to reduce recognition error recovery interactions to occur on one out of every four problems. We applied user-centered design principles to reduce the negative impact of recognition errors in the following ways: (1) though students handwrite their problem-solving process, they type their final answer to reduce ambiguity for tutoring purposes, and (2) in the small number of cases in which the system must involve the student in recognition error recovery, the interaction focuses on identifying the student's problem-solving error to keep the emphasis on tutoring. Many potential recognition errors can thus be ignored and distracting interactions are avoided. This work can inform the design of future systems for students using pen and sketch input for math or other topics by motivating the use of context and pragmatics to decrease the impact of recognition errors and put user focus on the task at hand.