Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Transcending the Limits of Classrooms: Expanding Educational Horizons through Intelligent Tutoring

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Transcending the Limits of Classrooms: Expanding Educational Horizons through Intelligent Tutoring

Article excerpt

Abstract

The notion of classroom-based University education is dramatically changing, education providers globally are adapting to the challenges and opportunities brought on by evolving technologies. A way of providing for this changing environment whilst maintaining a 'human-like' approach to education is the use of Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS). This study outlines the development and initial evaluation of an ITS designed specifically for capital investment decision-making (CID). The system tracks the student's performance, and generates a model of the student's knowledge, which is used to adapt the instructional session to the needs and abilities of each student providing individualised feedback. The ITS adds value to a traditional classroom-based tutoring approach by providing students with an enhanced problem-solving tool to be able to apply theoretical material in a 'real-life' simulated environment. The paper describes the ITS authoring environment, the creation of the tutoring system and a preliminary evaluation of academics' perspectives of using the system.

Keywords: accounting education, capital investment decision-making, intelligent tutoring systems, staffengagement, professional development

1. Introduction

The world of today has embraced technology in a way that allows for a truly global environment to exist, resulting in a world dominated by financial markets, outsourcing, competition and shifting political power, where often 'change' remains the only constant. The education environment has in recent times been criticized for not providing individuals with an educational experience that better prepares them for such an unpredictable and uncertain future (Prensky, 2012). Prensky argues that the promise of greater access, enhanced technology, social networking and widened participation is creating a seismic shiftin the higher educational context. This is at a time where, in July 2012, an announcement was made of Coursera's MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) where some of the most illustrious U.S. universities will co-exist to offer online courses, freely available to the global learner (Lewin, 2012).

Such an expanding educational horizon requires new and innovative learning resources and techniques, readily available to educators, enabling them to engage in a development that will ultimately change the context in which we operate. It is imperative that such resource development aims to facilitate an optimal balance between the efficient delivery of education and the learning outcomes of the individual learner. The problem with traditional classroom tutoring is that it can offer individualised instruction only to a very limited extent. The curriculum and the overall benefit of a tutorial group dictate the pace. On the other hand, adequate learning support is required in order to support the aim of governments worldwide to widen participation rates in higher education. Individual human tutoring proves, in the current economic climate, too expensive to be widely used. This presents an explicit challenge for business schools globally where student numbers are increasingly growing and individual student cohorts can vary in size from 300 to 1500 students per semester.

Meeting the individual learning support needs of students requires an innovative teaching solution that enables individualised instruction. Computers have been seen as a possible provider of affordable one-to-one tutoring. However, most computer-based educational systems are rudimentary, based on a question-answer scenario, and are not significantly different from a textbook approach (Baghaei, Mitrovic & Irwin, 2006; Mitrovic, Martin, Suraweera, Zakharov, Milik, Holland, & McGuigan, 2009). In order to provide 'human-like' tutoring, a computer system must be intelligent enough to evaluate and model students' knowledge. Only systems that are able to adapt to learning abilities, knowledge and the needs of their students promise to genuinely enhance education. …

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