Learning From a Computer Tutor With Natural Language Capabilities

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CIRCSIM-Tutor is a computer tutor designed to carry out a natural language dialogue with a medical student. Its domain is the baroreceptor reflex, the part of the cardiovascular system that is responsible for maintaining a constant blood pressure. CIRCSIM-Tutor's interaction with students is modeled after the tutoring behavior of two experienced human tutors. The effectiveness of CIRCSIM-Tutor has been tested by 50 first-year medical students. Using a pre-test/post-test paradigm we have demonstrated that significant learning occurs during a 1 hr interaction with the program. Students were also surveyed and indicated considerable satisfaction with the program.