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A more appropriate role for AI 

Debate still takes place in education over whether AI should be used to assist human cognition or replace it.  Although plenty of research investigates whether AI can externalise human cognition, and create machines capable of replicating human behaviour, the EDUCATE Research Team puts forward the case that augmenting human intelligence with machine learning is the more appropriate role.


The question: “What is an appropriate role for AI?” is the subject of much discussion and interest. Arguments about whether AI should be a human replacing technology or a human assisting technology frequently take centre stage. Education is no exception when it comes to questions about the role that AI should play, and as with many other

professional areas, the exact role of AI in education is not easy to predict. Here, we argue that one potential role for AI in education is to provide opportunities for human intelligence augmentation, with AI supporting us in decision-making processes, rather than replacing us through automation. To provide empirical evidence to support our

argument, we present a case study in the context of debate tutoring, in which we use prediction and classification models to increase the transparency of the intuitive decision-making processes of expert tutors for advanced reflections and feedback.

Furthermore, we compare the accuracy of unimodal and multimodal classification models of expert human tutors’ decisions about the social and emotional aspects of tutoring while evaluating trainees. Our results show that multimodal data leads to more accurate classification models in the context we studied.

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Augmentation, human decision-making, multimodal data, evaluation, reflection, feedback, recruitment, classification models, AI in education

About the Authors:

Dr Mutlu Cukurova

Mutlu is an academic faculty member at University College London and has a particular interest in researching the potential of emerging Educational Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Learning Analytics to continuously evaluate and support human development. In addition to this, Mutlu works with UNESCO’s international expert group on ICT in Education. He is Director of Research at EDUCATE and sits in the working group of UCL’s Grand Challenges on Transformative Technologies.

Mutlu's work is interdisciplinary and encompasses research in learning sciences, psychology, computer science, and Human-Computer Interaction. For more, visit his profile here.


Dr Carmel Kent

Carmel is the head of data science at EDUCATE and a senior research fellow at UCL. She is a computational social scientist, with a research focus on Artificial Intelligence for education and learning analytics.

Her other areas of interest focus on online learning communities, interactivity in online discussions and collaborative learning technologies.  She has 20 years of industry and academic experience, having worked as a software engineer, data scientist, entrepreneur, teacher and researcher, and for IBM research, EdTech and healthcare providers’ companies and a number of startups.

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Professor Rose Luckin

Cited as the ‘Dr. Who of AI’, Rose is Director of EDUCATE, and Professor of Learner Centred Design at UCL Knowledge Lab. She was named as one of 20 most influential people in Education on the Seldon List 2017, and her research involves the design and evaluation of EdTech using theories from the learning sciences and techniques from Artificial Intelligence.


A prolific editor and author, Rose’s 2018 book: ‘Machine Learning and Human Intelligence: The Future of Education for the 21st Century’ describes how we can benefit from Artificial Intelligence to support teaching and learning, and how futureproofing both involves revising what and how we teach and learn right now.


Co-Founder of the Institute for Ethical Artificial Intelligence in Education and President of the International Society for AI in Education, Rose is also a pickler and confectioner of garden produce, and will often be found running, baking, recommending the Ang Lee canon, and changing education for the better.

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