Affiliations: Department of Design Sciences, Faculty of Engineering,
Lund University, PO Box 118, 221 00 Lund, Sweden.
firstname.lastname@example.org | LUCS (Lund University Cognitive Science), Lund
University, Kungshuset, Lundagård, 222 22 Lund, Sweden.
Abstract: The paper presents a theoretical framework addressing three aspects
of embodied pedagogical agents: visual static appearance, pedagogical role, and
communicative style. The framework is then applied to a user study where 90
school children (aged 12-15) in a dummy multimedia program were presented with
either an instructor or a learning companion condition. They were then to
choose between eight visually different embodied pedagogical agents: four more
naturalistic (detailed & 3D-rendered) and four more stylized (simplified
& cartoonish). Finally the participants were to choose between a strictly
task-oriented versus a task- and relationoriented pedagogical agent. The goal of the study was to explore possible relations between the
three aspects mentioned above with respect to user preferences. Results were:
(i) when the agent was introduced as a learning companion, female students
displayed a significant tendency to choose a more stylized visual character,
(ii) when the agent was introduced as a learning companion, female students
displayed a significant tendency to choose a task- and relation-oriented agent,
and (iii) in the case when students had chosen a more stylized character, there
was a significant tendency to choose a task- and relation-oriented agent. The paper also discusses limitations and strengths of the study, and
advocates careful descriptions in studies of this kind – especially
regarding the notion of visual realism.