You are here:

When Are Tutorial Dialogues More Effective than Reading?

, , , , , ,

Cognitive Science Volume 31, Number 1, ISSN 0364-0213


It is often assumed that engaging in a one-on-one dialogue with a tutor is more effective than listening to a lecture or reading a text. Although earlier experiments have not always supported this hypothesis, this may be due in part to allowing the tutors to cover different content than the noninteractive instruction. In 7 experiments, we tested the interaction hypothesis under the constraint that (a) all students covered the same content during instruction, (b) the task domain was qualitative physics, (c) the instruction was in natural language as opposed to mathematical or other formal languages, and (d) the instruction conformed with a widely observed pattern in human tutoring: Graesser, Person, and Magliano's 5-step frame. In the experiments, we compared 2 kinds of human tutoring (spoken and computer mediated) with 2 kinds of natural-language-based computer tutoring (Why2-Atlas and Why2-AutoTutor) and 3 control conditions that involved studying texts. The results depended on whether the students' preparation matched the content of the instruction. When novices (students who had not taken college physics) studied content that was written for intermediates (students who had taken college physics), then tutorial dialogue was reliably more beneficial than less interactive instruction, with large effect sizes. When novices studied material written for novices or intermediates studied material written for intermediates, then tutorial dialogue was not reliably more effective than the text-based control conditions.


Matthews, D.E., VanLehn, K., Graesser, A.C., Jackson, G.T., Jordan, P., Olney, A. & Rosa, A.C.P. (2007). When Are Tutorial Dialogues More Effective than Reading?. Cognitive Science, 31(1), 3-62. Retrieved August 20, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ERIC on April 18, 2013. [Original Record]

ERIC is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education.

Copyright for this record is held by the content creator. For more details see ERIC's copyright policy.


Cited By

View References & Citations Map
  • Integrating Educational Technology into the Secondary Science Teaching

    S. Selcen Guzey, University of Minnesota, STEM Education Center, United States; Gillian H. Roehrig, University of Minnesota, United States

    Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education Vol. 12, No. 2 (June 2012) pp. 162–183

  • Learning Scientific Inquiry by Asking Questions in an Educational Game

    Keith Millis, Northern Illinois University, United States; Zhiqiang Cai & Art Graesser, University of Memphis, United States; Diane Halpern, Claremont McKenna College, United States; Patty Wallace, Northern Illinois University, United States

    E-Learn: World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education 2009 (Oct 26, 2009) pp. 2951–2956

  • An implementation of vicarious learning environments in middle school classrooms

    Scotty Craig, Arthur Graesser, Joshua Brittingham, Joah Williams & Trey Martindale, University of Memphis, United States; Gloria Williams & Renita Gray, Snowden elementary - Memphis City Schools, United States; Arlisha Darby, White station high School - Memphis City Schools, United States; Barry Gholson, University of Memphis, United States

    Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2008 (Mar 03, 2008) pp. 1060–1064

  • The Relationship Between Affective States and Dialog Patterns During Interactions With AutoTutor

    Arthur C. Graesser, Sidney K. D’Mello, Scotty D. Craig, Amy Witherspoon, Jeremiah Sullins, Bethany McDaniel & Barry Gholson, University of Memphis, United States

    Journal of Interactive Learning Research Vol. 19, No. 2 (April 2008) pp. 293–312

These links are based on references which have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. If you see a mistake, please contact