Why2000: A Dialogue-Based Explanation Tutoring System

The goal of the Why2000 project is to have students provide natural language answers to qualitative physics problems that are then followed up with a natural language dialogue in which the tutor provides feedback and attempts to correct recognizable misconceptions evident in the student's answer. This project is affiliated with CIRCLE, an NSF center for the study of tutoring.


The research project will:

Our basic approach is to combine a shallow, statistical approach with deep, symbolic approaches. Although prototypes of these components have been developed in our earlier work, all require significant extensions to handle explanation-based tutorial dialogs. We believe our hybrid approach will yield both the robustness and depth of understanding that explanation-based tutorial dialogs require.



Kurt VanLehn leads the University of Pittsburgh group, and Art Graesser leads the University of Memphis group.

The Pittsburgh group is under the daily direction of computational linguist, Pam Jordan. Our group members include:

Past Project Members:

The Memphis group is organized into four subgroups, each led by one or more faculty members:

Graduate students in computer science and psychology are assigned to each of the four groups.



  • Why2-Atlas, The University of Pittsburgh tutoring system
  • Why2-Autotutor, The University of Memphis tutoring system

  • Last update: June 5, 2009.