The objectives of this Working Group were to:
-Develop a theoretical framework for the area of explanation, based on work within cognitive science, expert systems, intelligent tutoring and education.
-Carry out a small number of pilot studies to look at the nature of explanation of expert and naive users in the areas of science and history.
-Develop knowledge and expertise of the Group by visits, meetings, etc.
The aim of the project was to reduce the current gap between the explanation facilities implemented in intelligent tutoring systems, and the explanations needed by and understood by learners. Work focused on explanations in the areas of science and history. The object of investigation was the nature of disparity between what can be and what needs to be done. The work was divided into two main streams. Firstly, a theoretical framework, consisting of a description of a theoretical framework for explanation, and the testing of its ability to classify the data gathered in the pilot studies on children's explanations. Work then proceeded to a partial implementation of prototype explanations, to function as an add-on to existing courseware. Secondly, feasibility studies, which followed 2 complementary research directions: the acceptability and utility of currently implemented explanation systems for learners, and the diagnosis and categorization of types of explanations as desired, interpreted or produced by learners.
APPROACH AND METHODS
The work was divided into two main streams:
-Theoretical Framework. Description of a theoretical framework for explanation, and the testing of its ability to classify the data gathered in the pilot studies on children's explanations. Work then proceeded to a partial implementation of prototype exp lanations, to function as an add-on to existing courseware.
-Feasibility Studies, which will follow two complementary research directions: the acceptibility and utility of currently implemented explanation systems for learners, and the diagnosis and categorisation of types of explanations as desired, interpretedor produced by learners.
PROGRESS AND RESULTS - STATUS OF OCTOBER 1991
Workshops were organised on the nature of explanation in history (Spring 1990) and the nature of explanation in science (Summer 1990) and two seminars were organised in Paris (l'Explication dans l'enseignement et l'EIAO - April 1990) and London (Do-able -Intelligent Learning Environments - September 1991). Numerous visits have been made.
A prototype has been developed that permits the building of systemic networks (the programme will allow categories to be set out in such a way as to show their interdependencies). A feasibility study has begun to explore children's explanations of "complex problems".
Theoretical development will provide a clearer picture of the nature of the differences between explanations which satisfy pupils and those which satisfy teachers and experts. It will also indicate the nature and form of explanations felt to be needed by and understood by pupils.
WC1H 0AL London
WC2R 2LS London
SW7 2BZ London