Desirable Characteristics of Learning Companions

In IJAIED 17 (4)

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This study investigated the desirable characteristics of anthropomorphized learning-companion agents for college students. First, interviews with six undergraduates explored their concepts of desirable learning companions. The interviews yielded agent competency, agent personality, and interaction control. Next, a controlled experiment examined whether learner competency (strong vs. weak) would relate directly to agent competency (high vs. low) and to interaction control (agent-control vs. learner-control). The dependent measures included learners' perceptions of agent functionality, their self-efficacy beliefs in the task, and their learning. The results indicated that academically strong students perceived the high-competent agent higher than the lowcompetent agent and showed higher self-efficacy beliefs in the task and recalled more after working with the high-competent agent. Academically weak students, by contrast, showed higher self-efficacy and recalled more after working with the low-competent agent. Also, academically strong students valued agent-control highly, but academically weak students valued learner-control. The strong students showed higher self-efficacy in agentcontrol but lower self-efficacy in learner-control than did the weak students. In general, the results indicated that the similarities of characteristics between an agent and a learner have positive impacts on learners' cognitive and affective attainments.