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Good teachers are good motivators. Motivation is a key ingredient in
learning, and emotions play an important role in motivation.
Therefore, we believe that pedagogical agents will be more effective
teachers if they display and understand emotions. This could
facilitate learning in several ways:
- A pedagogical agent must appear to care about the student and his
progress. This will give the student a feeling that he and the
agent are ``in things together,'' and will encourage the student to
care about his own progress and the agent's opinion of him.
- A pedagogical agent must be sensitive to the student's emotions.
For example, the agent must recognize a student's frustration so as
to intervene with assistance and encouragement before the student
- A pedagogical agent should convey enthusiasm for the subject matter,
in order to foster similar enthusiasm in the student. To achieve
a credible appearance of enthusiasm in an agent, it is useful to
model the emotions that underlie it.
- A pedagogical agent with a rich and interesting personality
may simply make learning more fun. A student that enjoys
interacting with a pedagogical agent will have a more positive
perception of the whole learning experience. A student that
enjoys a learning environment will undoubtedly spend more time
there, which is likely to increase learning.
We cannot, at this point, claim to elevate these much beyond the level of
intuition, but they are highly commonsensical, and are also testable
hypotheses (and c.f. [Lester & Stone1997]). By directly comparing the
effectiveness of pedagogical agents with and without various types of
emotional capabilities, we can better understand the role of emotion in
Mon Mar 10 19:53:21 EST 1997