Background: Prior studies have shown that visual signaling improves learning from text or narration in conjunction with one depictive visual representation; however, engineering instruction typically employs multiple descriptive and depictive visual representations. Animated pedagogical agents (APAs) positively influence student attitudes about engineering. Whether APA signaling improves engineering learning and which APA characteristics are most conducive to learning is largely unknown. Purpose: We examined the effects of visual signaling in engineering learning materials with multiple descriptive and depictive visual representations. We compared visual signaling by a young female APA with arrow signaling. Design/Method: In the APA signaling condition, at appropriate points within a narration about electric circuits, the relevant areas in a circuit diagram, a sequence of equation calculations, and a Cartesian graph were signaled using APA gestures. In the arrow signaling condition, the same relevant areas were signaled using a dynamic arrow; the no-signaling (control) condition had no visual signaling. Student learning and perceptions were measured with a problem-solving posttest and a survey. Results: Results indicated an aptitude-treatment interaction. Low prior knowledge learners had higher learning gains in the APA signaling condition, compared with the no signaling condition; high prior knowledge learners did not benefit from visual signaling. Conclusions: Precollege students with low prior knowledge benefit from the signaling by a young female APA in instruction with multiple visual representations; high prior knowledge learners do not benefit from such support.
- Animated pedagogical agents
- Multiple visual representations
- Visual signaling
ASJC Scopus subject areas