Why do only some events cause learning during human tutoring?
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Developers of intelligent tutoring systems would like to know what human tutors do and which activities are responsible for their success in tutoring. We address these questions by comparing episodes where tutoring does and does not cause learning. Approximately 125 hr of tutorial dialog between expert human tutors and physics students are analyzed to see what features of the dialog are associated with learning. Successful learning appears to require that the student reach an impasse. When students were not at an impasse, learning was uncommon regardless of the tutorial explanations employed. On the other hand, once students were at an impasse, tutorial explanations were sometimes associated with learning. Moreover, for different types of knowledge, different types of tutorial explanations were associated with learning different types of knowledge.