Teacher-learner interaction quantifies scaffolding behaviour in imitation learning

Shuntaro Okazaki*, Yoshihiro Muraoka, Rieko Osu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Teachers often believe that they take into account learners’ ongoing learning progress in their teaching. Can behavioural data support this belief? To address this question, we investigated the interactive behavioural coordination between teachers and learners during imitation learning to solve a puzzle. The teacher manually demonstrated the puzzle solution to a learner who immediately imitated and learned it. Manual movements of teachers and learners were analysed using a bivariate autoregressive model. To identify bidirectional information exchange and information shared between the two agents, we calculated causality and noise covariance from the model. Information transfer observed from teacher to learner in the lateral component of their motion indicated imitation of the spatial information of the puzzle solution. Information transfer from learner to teacher in the vertical component of their motion indicated the monitoring process through which teachers adjust their timing of demonstration to the learner’s progress. The shared information in the lateral component increased as learning progressed, indicating the knowledge was shared between the two agents. Our findings demonstrated that the teacher interactively engaged in and contingently supported (i.e. scaffolded) imitation. We thus provide a behavioural signature of the teacher’s intention to promote learning indispensable for understanding the nature of teaching.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7543
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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