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Closing the gender gap in STEM with friendly male instructors? On the effects of rapport behavior and gender of a virtual agent in an instructional interaction
ARTICLE

, , University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany ; , USC Institute for Creative Technologies, United States ; , University of Southern California, United States ; , University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany ; , USC Institute for Creative Technologies, United States

Computers & Education Volume 99, Number 1, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd

Abstract

While numerous research endeavors address the effects of pedagogical agents, the role of the agent's gender and its rapport behavior has been neglected. We hypothesize that a minimal amount of behavioral realism induced by display of rapport is necessary for any social effects to occur in human-computer interaction. Further, in line with results from STEM research on female role models, we assume that especially for female learners a same sex agent will be beneficial. In a 2 (student gender) × 2 (agent gender) × 2 (rapport behavior yes/no) between subjects design, we investigate whether virtual agents can help enhance participants' performance, effort and motivation in mathematics. Female and male participants (N = 128) interacted with a male or female virtual agent that either displayed rapport or no rapport. Our results confirm the expected main effect of rapport. However, against expectations, our results do not support the assumption that a same sex agent is beneficial for female learners. Participants’ performance and effort were significantly enhanced when interacting with an agent of opposite gender that displayed rapport. Our results have implications on designing agents for education and training purposes.

Citation

Krämer, N.C., Karacora, B., Lucas, G., Dehghani, M., Rüther, G. & Gratch, J. (2016). Closing the gender gap in STEM with friendly male instructors? On the effects of rapport behavior and gender of a virtual agent in an instructional interaction. Computers & Education, 99(1), 1-13. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved May 20, 2022 from .

This record was imported from Computers & Education on January 29, 2019. Computers & Education is a publication of Elsevier.

Full text is availabe on Science Direct: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2016.04.002

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