Conversational Agents and Learning Outcomes: An Experimental Investigation
MetadataShow full item record
An experimental approach was used to compare two types of web interfaces (standard web page vs. conversational agent) to course content on the life and theories of Jean Piaget. The content in each interface was identical with the exception of third- vs. first-person references. Fifty-nine students in psychology first completed a pretest of Piagetian knowledge and then were randomly assigned to one of the two interfaces. After 20 minutes of review/conversation, students completed a 35-item exam designed to measure knowledge retention and a questionnaire to measure their perceptions of the assigned interface. Contrary to expectations, the standard text web page was rated significantly higher on measures of enjoyment and utility and led to better learning outcomes than did the conversational agent. Altogether, the findings indicate that the use of conversational agents in education needs to be carefully evaluated to ensure that resources are being effectively deployed.