Animated pedagogical agents: do they advance student motivation and learning in an inquiry learning environment?

Hans van der Meij, Jan van der Meij, Ruth Harmsen

Research output: Book/ReportReportProfessional

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Student behavior in inquiry learning environments has often been found to be in need of (meta)cognitive support. Two pilots revealed that students might also benefit from motivational support in such an environment. An experiment with 61 junior high school students (ages 14-16) compared three conditions related to motivational support: a motivating agent (female image and voice), the agent's voice only, or no support. The support provided addressed two vital components of motivation: task-relevance and self-efficacy belief. The learning environment covered a topic in physics, a domain for which a gender difference in self-efficacy has frequently been reported. The effects of both gender and condition were investigated. Overall, students showed gains in self-efficacy belief, perceptions of taskrelevance, and learning. Effects related to gender and condition included the finding that: (1) when the task was more difficult, the self-efficacy belief of the girls tended to increase for the Agent and Voice condition while staying equal in the Control condition, whereas that of the boys increased in the Control condition but decreased for the Agent and Voice condition, and (2) girls tended to learn more in the Agent and Voice condition while boys did better in the Control condition. The discussion addresses the question of how to create an agent that fulfills basic requirements of credibility (external properties) and task-specific support (internal properties).
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEnschede
PublisherCentre for Telematics and Information Technology (CTIT)
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameCTIT technical report series
PublisherUniversiteit Twente
ISSN (Print)1381-3625


  • Animated Pedagogical Agents
  • Motivation
  • Inquiry learning
  • Simulation-based learning environments


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