Cog Sci Talk – Jan 29 @ 4PM (Room: FIT405)

Invited Speaker: Dr. Art Graesser, The University of Memphis

“How Are Theoretical Principles of Learning Incorporated in Intelligent Pedagogical Agents?”

Abstract: This presentation begins by identifying theories and principles of learning that are popular in psychology, education, machine learning, and artificial intelligence in education. As it turns out, the theories vary considerably among these different fields and researchers rarely attend each other’s conferences. They also have very different visions on what constitutes a theory. The second part of the presentation identifies some ways that principles of learning from each of these fields are incorporated in the intelligent pedagogical agents (such as AutoTutor) that have been developed at the University of Memphis. These agents help students learn about various skills and subject matters: reading comprehension, mathematics, scientific reasoning, collaborative problem solving, physics, biology, computer literacy, the list goes on. The agents also provide precise control over the learning experiences so that subtle theoretical principles can be tested. This integration between basic science and applications is the essence of the science of learning in the 21st Century.


Art Graesser is a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Institute of Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis and is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. His primary research interests are in cognitive science, discourse processing, computational linguistics, and the learning sciences. He has developed automated tutoring systems with conversational agents (such as AutoTutor and Operation ARA) and automated text analysis systems (Coh-Metrix, QUAID). He served as editor of the journal Discourse Processes (1996–2005) and Journal of Educational Psychology (2009-2014). His service in professional societies includes president of the Empirical Studies of Literature, Art, and Media (1989-1992), the Society for Text and Discourse (2007-2010), the International Society for Artificial Intelligence in Education (2007-2009), and the Federation of Associations in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences Foundation (2012-13). In addition to receiving major lifetime research achievements awards from the Society for Text and the American Psychological Association, he received the first University of Memphis Presidential Award for Lifetime Achievement in Research.