Enabling Technologies

Enabling Technologies

LearnLabĀ Enabling Technologies include permanent, on-going tasks (such as LearnSphere based onĀ DataShop) and an evolving collection of tool-development projects of finite duration.



The Cognitive Tutor Authoring Tools (CTAT) are a key LearnLab enabling technology. This suite of authoring tools facilitates the development of computer-based tutors for use in real-world situations for learning science experiments. CTAT tutors are especially suited to serve as the basis for experiments in the LearnLabs since they allow for the systematic administration of different instructional treatments and they integrate with the logging and analysis facilities of the LearnLab DataShop.

Currently, CTAT supports the development and delivery (including web delivery) of two types of tutors: problem-specific Example-Tracing Tutors, which are easy to build, and Cognitive Tutors, which are harder to build but are more general, having a cognitive model of a competent student’s skills.

Cognitive Tutors have a long and successful history that pre-dates CTAT: tutors for high-school math (developed prior to the creation of CTAT) have been shown to be very effective in raising students’ test scores (Koedinger, Anderson, Hadley, & Mark, 1997; Koedinger, Corbett, Ritter, & Shapiro, 2000) and have been used by hundreds of thousands of students (see Carnegie Learning). So far, CTAT has been used considerably outside of the LearnLab context, in research projects, graduate courses, and summer schools. It is beginning to be used within the LearnLab (see below). We are developing extensions necessary for sustained use within LearnLab, namely:

  • Further develop and improve the tools for authoring cognitive models.
  • Extend a “round trip” facility for bootstrapping the development of tutoring capabilities from an existing problem-solving environment, using log data of interactions that students had with this environment.
  • Improve and extend the ways in which tutors can be delivered on the web.
  • Add capabilities for more conveniently delivering different instructional interventions within CTAT-based tutors.
  • Develop facilities for generalization of Pseudo Tutors that will make them re-usable across a range of problems (rather than single problems).
  • Incorporate further extensions prompted by LearnLab researchers and course developers who are using CTAT in their LearnLab courses.

For more information, visit the CTAT website.