Please note: This PhD defence will be given online.
Jessy Ceha, PhD Candidate
David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science
Supervisor: Professor Edith Law
The verbal discourse conversational agents provide, elicits in learners the opportunity to express and communicate knowledge in different ways to aid learning. Findings from various domains demonstrate the influence of affect (emotions, feelings, and moods) on cognition and that certain affective states can facilitate different kinds of thinking. With respect to pedagogical agents, evidence strongly suggests that the manner in which they converse with learners (e.g., being polite), can enhance cognitive (e.g., knowledge organization, metacognition) as well as affective (e.g., motivation, self-efficacy) outcomes. Motivation — to be moved to do something — is an especially significant affective state, as it can influence what, when, and how we learn. Understanding, supporting, and designing for motivation is therefore of great importance for the advancement of learning technology research.
This dissertation explores how conversational agents in learning contexts can promote motivation through the expression of affective states. Prior work across various domains, including education, suggests that affective expressions are crucial for enhancing the communication between human and agent, which may in-turn positively influence learner motivation.
Three expressions are investigated: curiosity, humour, and interjections, each aimed at enhancing motivation, by adapting the learning environment through the following tactics: 1) evoking emotional contagion by simulating the affective state curiosity (i.e., a type of intrinsic motivation) in the agent to elicit the same affective state in the learner, 2) creating a positive experience for the learner using humour, and 3) strengthening the agent-learner relationship through the addition of expressive auditory gestures (i.e., interjections) to the agent’s speech.
To join this PhD defence on Zoom, please go to https://uwaterloo.zoom.us/j/98048622712?pwd=dkhxSFVYNVVkL3I4VVpRUzBVcVVtUT09.
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