Type of Document Dissertation Author Ebbers, Suzanne J. Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-07092007-151016 Title The Impact of Social Model Agent Type (Coping, Mastery) and Social Interaction Type (Vicarious, Direct) on Learner Motivation, Attitudes, Social Comparisons, Affect and Learning Performance Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Amy L. Baylor, Ph.D. Committee Chair Gary W. Peterson, Ph.D. Committee Member Mary W. Hicks, Ph.D. Committee Member Robert K. Branson, Ph.D. Committee Member Keywords
- Self-Evaluation Maintenance Theory
- Cognitive Load Theory
- Cognitive Dissonance
- Social Model
- Pedagogical Agent
- Social Learning
- Social Interaction
- Instructional Design
- Educational Technology
Date of Defense 2007-05-15 Availability unrestricted AbstractABSTRACT
Pedagogical agents, which are “virtual” (computerized) characters for learning, are a recent research phenomenon. While they have been studied in numerous types of computerized environments in terms of their impact on learning, motivation, attitude and other measures, no study has yet been performed replicating a human-agent social learning “virtual classroom” environment, and no study has compared the impact of a Direct Interaction (learner participates in conversation) as compared to a Vicarious Interaction (learner overhears conversation).
This study sought to determine in a human-agent social learning situation the extent to which the underlying inherent processes of human-human social learning are mirrored in a human-agent social learning situation using Bandura and Schunk’s recommended guidelines for social learning models (Coping and Mastery). It also sought to determine the impact of a social interaction - either “overheard” (Vicarious) or “with the learner” (Direct) – on social learning outcomes.
The study examined the impact of Agent Type (Coping and Mastery) and the impact of Agent Type * Interaction Type (Coping/Vicarious; Coping/Direct; Mastery/Vicarious; and Mastery/Direct) on learner motivation (self-efficacy and anticipated satisfaction), attitudes (agent likeability and positive attitudes towards agent), social comparison activity (competence similarity, performance similarity, and evaluation comparison), positive and negative affect, and learning performance (recall, integration, and a combined recall/integration score).
One hundred and three undergraduate learners from a pre-service teacher’s Introduction to Technology course were randomized into five conditions, including a control condition with social model agent present but not speaking. The learning environment was an hour-long automated computerized instructional module teaching learners how to create an e-learning instructional plan in three segments: creating objectives, creating an activity plan and creating an assessment. Dependent measures were taken prior to the inception of instruction, half-way through the instruction, and at the end of the instruction after the post-test learning performance activity.
In terms of Agent Type, there were significant results for Motivation (p = .052) and Self-Efficacy (p = .016), Positive Attitude (p = .046), Comparisons (p = .008), Competence Similarity (p = .021), Performance Similarity (p = .003), and all three Learning Performance results (Recall: p = .000; Integration: p = .001; and Combined: p = .000). Attitudes approached significance (p = .086). Coping Agent Type produced significantly more positive results than did Mastery Agent Type for all dependent measures except Learning Performance measures. For these, the Mastery Agent Type was much more effective than the Coping Agent Type.
In terms of Time * Agent Type, there were significant results for Attitude, Positive Attitude, and Evaluation Comparison, with Comparisons (p = .083) and Performance Similarity (p = .093) approaching significance. There were no significant results for Agent Type * Interaction Type, but for Time * Agent Type * Interaction Type, Motivation was significant, and Attitudes approached significance at p = .071. Learner Positive and Negative Affect were not significant in terms of Agent Type or Agent Type * Interaction Type, but both dependent measures were highly significant in terms of Time. Over time, both positive and negative learner affect decreased across conditions, demonstrating that the other social learning processes were not affected by mood.
All significant results except one were in the expected direction, with the Coping Agent Type producing more positive results than the Mastery Agent Type. However, interestingly, while the Learning Performance measures of Recall (p = .000), Integration (p = .001), and Combined (p = .000) all were highly significant, they produced the opposite result of what was expected, with the Mastery Agent Type learners producing high learning performance scores.
Results indicate that in a computerized human-agent social learning experience the Coping Agent Type influences learners to have more positive outcomes in terms of the underlying processes of social learning (motivation, attitudes, and social comparison activity), but the Mastery Agent Type leads learners to have more positive learning performance outcomes. Sweller’s Cognitive Load theory, Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance theory, Mayer’s social conversation schema, Bandura’s Social Learning Theory in terms of motivational issues, and Turner’s Theory of Social Interaction explain many of the significant results, and implications for social learning theory and instructional design theory are discussed.
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