Learning to Give a Complete Argument with a Conversational Agent: An Experimental Study in Two Domains of Argumentation

Behzad Mirzababaei*, Viktoria Pammer-Schindler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


This paper reports a between-subjects experiment (treatment group N = 42, control group N = 53) evaluating the effect of a conversational agent that teaches users to give a complete argument. The agent analyses a given argument for whether it contains a claim, a warrant and evidence, which are understood to be essential elements in a good argument. The agent detects which of these elements is missing, and accordingly scaffolds the argument completion. The experiment includes a treatment task (Task 1) in which participants of the treatment group converse with the agent, and two assessment tasks (Tasks 2 and 3) in which both the treatment and the control group answer an argumentative question. We find that in Task 1, 36 out of 42 conversations with the agent are coherent. This indicates good interaction quality. We further find that in Tasks 2 and 3, the treatment group writes a significantly higher percentage of argumentative sentences (task 2: t(94) = 1.73, p = 0.042, task 3: t(94) = 1.7, p = 0.045). This shows that participants of the treatment group used the scaffold, taught by the agent in Task 1, outside the tutoring conversation (namely in the assessment Tasks 2 and 3) and across argumentation domains (Task 3 is in a different domain of argumentation than Tasks 1 and 2). The work complements existing research on adaptive and conversational support for teaching argumentation in essays.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducating for a New Future
Subtitle of host publicationMaking Sense of Technology-Enhanced Learning Adoption - 17th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning, EC-TEL 2022, Proceedings
EditorsIsabel Hilliger, Pedro J. Muñoz-Merino, Tinne De Laet, Alejandro Ortega-Arranz, Tracie Farrell
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9783031162893
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event17th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning: EC-TEL 2022 - Toulouse, France
Duration: 12 Sep 202216 Sep 2022

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference17th European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning


  • Argumentation
  • Educational conversational agent
  • Intelligent tutoring
  • Toulmin’s model of argument

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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