PhD Seminar • Human-Computer Interaction • Expressive Auditory Gestures in a Voice-Based Pedagogical Agent

Friday, October 29, 2021 2:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

Please note: This PhD seminar will be given online.

Jessy Ceha, PhD candidate
David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science

Supervisor: Professor Edith Law

This study explores the influence of expressive auditory gestures added to the speech of a pedagogical agent on the human-agent relationship and learning outcomes. In a between-subjects experiment, 41 participants assumed the role of a tutor to teach a voice-based agent. The agent used either: expressive interjections (e.g., “yay”, “hmm”, “oh”), brief expressive musical executions, or no auditory gestures at all (control condition), throughout the interaction. Overall, the results indicate that both gestures can positively affect the interaction, but in particular, interjections can significantly increase feelings of emotional rapport with the agent and enhance motivation in learners. The implications of our findings will be discussed, as our work adds to the understanding of conversational agent design and can be useful for education as well as other domains in which dialogue systems are used.

To join this PhD seminar on Zoom, please go to