Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology

First Committee Member

Kent Crippen

Second Committee Member

Randall Boone

Number of Pages



This study was designed to investigate learning with animated pedagogical agents (APAs) in the chemistry domain. Of interest was whether learners achieved more when paired with an APA, the learner's perception of the APA, and whether the ability to choose an APA affected learner performance and perception; An APA (Animated Pedagogical Agent) is a computerized character that is designed to facilitate learning. The ability of the student to choose which APA to study with was integral to this study, so that the effects of student choice on performance and perception of the APA could be investigated. Further, the student's view of the APA in general was analyzed from open-ended comments submitted by the students; The APAs were carefully constructed according to cognitive load theory (CLT), the cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CTML) and social agency theory. Presentation of the APA, worked examples and self-explanation prompts for weekly chemistry quizzes were built in accordance with these theories. What is surprising is that the students did not react to the APAs as expected; The students should have performed better when studying with an APA, and should have enjoyed studying with their APA. However, the results of this study did not reveal this; The interesting results of this study do not lie with differences sought between the groups. The condition, whether no APA, assigned APA or self-selected APA, did not seem to make a significant difference in this study. What made a difference was the APA itself, whether selected or assigned, and the comments of the students; One possible interpretation may be that there is an initial novelty effect when students study with an APA, and that this benefit is lost over time such as in this multiple measures study. Further, the APA may be viewed as a kind of decoration, since the appearance of the APA led to significant differences in perception of the APA. Finally, the ability to customize the APA may be linked to student perception of the APA.


Agent; Animated; Animated Agent; Apa; Choice; Pedagogical; Pedagogical Agent; Perceptions; Performance; Persona; Pedagogical; Pedagogical Agent; Performance; Persona

Controlled Subject

Educational technology; Curriculum planning; Social psychology

File Format


File Size

1658.88 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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