Toward a Feature-Driven Understanding of Students' Emotions during Interactions with Agent-Based Learning Environments: A Selective Review

Toward a Feature-Driven Understanding of Students' Emotions during Interactions with Agent-Based Learning Environments: A Selective Review

Jason M. Harley (Computer Science and Operations, University of Montréal, Montréal, Canada & McGill University, Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology, Montréal, Canada) and Roger Azevedo (Department of Psychology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/ijgcms.2014070102
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This selective review synthesizes and draws recommendations from the fields of affective computing, intelligent tutoring systems, and psychology to describe and discuss the emotions that learners report experiencing while interacting with agent-based learning environments (ABLEs). Theoretically driven explanations are provided that describe the relative effectiveness and ineffectiveness of different ABLE features to foster adaptive emotions (e.g., engagement, curiosity) vs. non-adaptive emotions (e.g., frustration, boredom) in six different environments. This review provides an analytical lens to evaluate and improve upon research with ABLEs by identifying specific system features and their relationship with learners' appraisals and emotions.
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The last few decades have witnessed an explosion in the study of the complex role of emotions in a multitude of learning contexts (Azevedo & Aleven, 2013; D’Mello, 2013; Calvo & D’Mello, 2010, 2011, 2012; Harley, in press; Pekrun & Linnenbrink-Garcia, 2014). Amidst the application of traditional and cutting-edge methods to computer-based learning environments (CBLEs), however, many fundamental questions remain unanswered: How do students feel about interacting with specific types of CBLEs? Does the incidence of discrete emotions vary between similar types of environments? What features support or hinder learners’ experience of adaptive emotions within these environments? This review is unique in attempting to answer these questions as they relate to a type of CBLE, namely agent-based learning environments (ABLEs; which feature pedagogical agents) and in so doing address these gaps in the research literature (Calvo & D’Mello, 2010; D’Mello, 2013). Understanding how and why learners’ feel they way they do toward ABLEs is important because of the relationship between learning and emotions in which emotions can both support (e.g., enjoyment, hope) and hinder learning (e.g., boredom, anxiety; Pekrun, 2011; Pekrun, Daniel, Perry, Goetz, Stupinsky, 2010; Pekrun, Goetz, Frenzel, Petra, & Perry, 2011).

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