Baylor, A. L. & Kim, S. (2009) Designing nonverbal communication for pedagogical agents: When less is more. Computers in Human Behavior, 25, 450-457.
Publication year: 2009

This experimental study employed a 2  2  2 factorial design to investigate the effects of type of instruction (procedural module, attitudinal module), deictic gesture (presence, absence), and facial expression (presence, absence) on student perception of pedagogical agent persona, attitude toward the content, and learning. The interaction effect between type of instruction and agent nonverbal behavior (deictic gestures and facial expression) was also investigated. A total of 236 college students learned from an animated pedagogical agent that varied by two factors: deictic gestures and facial expression within one of two instructional environments: one training them to perform tasks within a software program (procedural learning outcome); the other focusing on changing their beliefs regarding intellectual property (attitudinal learning outcome). Results indicated that the main effects of agent facial expression and gesture as well as the interaction were significant for agent perception and learning. With regard to learning, for attitudinal instruction, participants learned more when the agent’s facial expression was present but deictic gesture was absent; however, for procedural instruction, students learned more when the agent’s gestures were present. These results are discussed in light of a preliminary pedagogical agent design principle that suggests that it is most desirable to employ the one nonverbal communicative behavior that is most appropriate to the learning outcome.