Summer School on Smart Tutoring Software using CTAT

Monday, August 07 to Friday, August 11, 2023

A one-week workshop on how to build your own intelligent tutors
No programming skills requiredbring your ideas

Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) are an educational technology that has proven to be very effective in helping students learn. They guide students during problem-solving practice, enabling them to follow their own path while solving a given problem and providing individualized stepwise feedback. Many tutoring systems also support individualized mastery learning by which each student gets assigned their own, individualized set of problems, sufficient to master targeted skills.

ITS are associated with the field of  ‹AI in Education›. A popular kind of tutors are Cognitive Tutors. These tutors are based on a cognitive model that reproduces the mental processes involved in solving a task. A cognitive model does justice to the fact that students can successfully solve one and the same task in different ways. They are thus very useful for many students, including low-performing students, who are known to have difficulties in adapting different ways of solving problems.

In this Summer School, you will learn concepts of ITS and you will learn to build them. You will develop a prototype of a computer-based intelligent tutor. To do this, you will use the CTAT (Cognitive Tutor Authoring Tool) developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). CTAT was developed for non-programmers, so you can use the tool without programming experience (Example-Tracing Tutors).

During the Summer School you will work on your own project in your area of interest. CTAT tutors usually focus on solving multi-step problems, such as those often found in mathematics, physics, or chemistry, but they are also used in language learning. Over the course of the week, you will first conduct a cognitive task analysis to understand the types of problems for which your tutor may be used and to understand students’ processes for solving them. Subsequently, you will use CTAT to implement an intelligent tutor. By the end of the week, you will have a running prototype of your tutor.

During the Summer School you will be mentored, among others, by experts from CMU who developed CTAT. The Summer School will primarily take place in a stunning setting at Schloss Au on the Au peninsula in Lake Zurich.

Registration and more information:

Monday, August 07 to Friday, August 11, 2023

Times and venues:
  • Monday: 13:00 to 17:00 on the campus of the Zurich University of Teacher Education, Lagerstrasse 2, Zurich, Switzerland.
  • Tuesday – Friday: 9:00 to 17:00, Schloss Au, Au Zurich, Switzerland
  • Vincent Aleven, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
  • Tomohiro Nagashima, Saarland University, Germany
  • Thomas Schmalfeldt, Zurich University of Teacher Education, Switzerland
  • Jonathan Sewall, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
  • Meng Xia, Carnegie Mellon University, USA
  • Students and doctoral students: CHF 380.-
  • PH Zurich staff members: CHF 470.-
  • External regular: CHF 620.-

The inputs and coaching will be in English. If required, the coaching sessions can also be in German.

  • Monday: Snacks included
  • Tuesday – Friday: Lunch and snacks included

Since accommodation requirements vary widely, we ask participants to arrange their own accommodation. We are happy to help with arranging if you would like to share a double room.


Thomas Schmalfeldt (