Hints: Is It Better to Give or Wait to Be Asked?

Leena Razzaq, Neil T. Heffernan

Many tutoring systems allow students to ask for hints when they need help solving problems, and this has been shown to be helpful. However, many students have trouble knowing when to ask for help or they prefer to guess rather than ask for and read a hint. Is it better to give a hint when a student makes an error or wait until the student asks for a hint? This paper describes a study that compares giving hints proactively when students make errors to requiring students to ask for a hint when they want one. We found that students learned reliably more with hints-on-demand than proactive hints. This effect was especially evident for students who tend to ask for a high number of hints. There was not a significant difference between the two conditions for students who did not ask for many hints.

The final publication is available at Springer via https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-13388-6_39.