The Effect of Motivational Learning Companions on Low-Achieving Students and Students with Learning Disabilities, submitted to the International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems

International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems, 2010, Pittsburgh


We report the results of a randomized controlled evaluation of the effectiveness of pedagogical agents as providers of affective feedback. These digital learning companions were embedded in an intelligent tutoring system for mathematics, and were used by approximately one hundred high school students in two public high schools. Students in the control group did not receive the learning companions. Results indicate that low-achieving students, one-third of whom have learning disabilities had higher affective needs than their higher-achieving peers, as they initially considered math problem-solving more frustrating, less exciting, and felt more anxious when solving math problems. However, after they interacted with the affective pedagogical agents, low-achieving students improved their affective outcomes, e.g., reported reduced frustration and anxiety.