Fostering multimedia learning of science: Exploring the role of an animated agent's image

Qi Dunsworth, Robert Atkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Research suggests that students learn better when studying a picture coupled with narration rather than on-screen text in a computer-based multimedia learning environment. Moreover, combining narration with the visual presence of an animated pedagogical agent may also encourage students to process information deeper than narration or on-screen text alone. The current study was designed to evaluate three effects among students learning about the human cardiovascular system: the modality effect (narration vs. on-screen text), the embodied agent effect (narration + agent vs. on-screen text), and the image effect (narration + agent vs. narration). The results of this study document large and significant embodied agent and image effects on the posttest (particularly retention items) but surprisingly no modality effect was found. Overall, the results suggest that incorporating an animated pedagogical agent - programmed to coordinate narration with gaze and pointing - into a science-focused multimedia learning environment can foster learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-690
Number of pages14
JournalComputers and Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2007


  • Animated pedagogical agents
  • Modality effect
  • Multimedia learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Education


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