Mind wandering during learning with an intelligent tutoring system

Caitlin Mills, Sidney D’Mello, Nigel Bosch, Andrew M. Olney

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Mind wandering (zoning out) can be detrimental to learning outcomes in a host of educational activities, from reading to watching video lectures, yet it has received little attention in the field of intelligent tutoring systems (ITS). In the current study, participants self-reported mind wandering during a learning session with Guru, a dialogue-based ITS for biology. On average, participants interacted with Guru for 22 minutes and reported an average of 11.5 instances of mind wandering, or one instance every two minutes. The frequency of mind wandering was compared across five different phases of Guru (Common-Ground-Building Instruction, Intermittent Summary, Concept Map, Scaffolded Dialogue, and Cloze task), each requiring different learning strategies. The rate of mind wandering per minute was highest during the Common-Ground-Building Instruction and Scaffolded Dialogue phases of Guru. Importantly, there was significant negative correlation between mind wandering and learning, highlighting the need to address this phenomena during learning with ITSs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationArtificial Intelligence in Education - 17th International Conference, AIED 2015, Proceedings
EditorsCristina Conati, Neil Heffernan, Antonija Mitrovic, M. Felisa Verdejo
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9783319197722
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event17th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education, AIED 2015 - Madrid, Spain
Duration: Jun 22 2015Jun 26 2015

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other17th International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education, AIED 2015


  • Attention
  • Engagement
  • Intelligent tutoring
  • Mind wandering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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