Aleven, V., Stahl, E., Schworm, S., Fischer, F., & Wallace, R. (2003). Help seeking and help design in interactive learning environments. Review of Educational Research, 73 (3), 277-320.

Many interactive learning environments (ILEs) offer on-demand help. One might expect that the help facilities would positively influence the learning outcomes of learners using ILEs. However, a number of recent studies report evidence that learners are not using the help facilities of ILEs effectively. In this paper, we present a selective review of literature that (1) examines theoretical perspectives on the role of on-demand help in ILEs (2) reviews literature on the relations between help seeking and learning in ILEs, and (3) identifies reasons for the lack of effective help use from a psychological perspective. We review the effect on help seeking of system-related factors (which relate to the design of the help system), of student-related factors (such as prior knowledge, epistemological beliefs), and of interactions between these types of factors. The literature suggests that effective help-seeking behavior in ILEs is related to better learning outcomes. The interaction between metacognitive skills and cognitive factors like prior knowledge is important for appropriate help seeking as are a potentially large space of system-related factors. The interactions among learner- and system-related factors are poorly understood, although some interesting results have emerged. We suggest directions for future research on help design and help seeking in ILEs.