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Learning designs incorporating animated pedagogical agents: Their potential for improving academic writing competence, writing self-efficacy, and reducing writing anxiety

Watson, Shalini (2021) Learning designs incorporating animated pedagogical agents: Their potential for improving academic writing competence, writing self-efficacy, and reducing writing anxiety. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Academic writing can be extremely challenging, especially for new university students. This is compounded by the mass-migration of courses to online delivery, which further increases the complexity of acquiring writing skills.

Animated pedagogical agents (APAs) have shown promise in addressing these problems, because they simulate authentic face-to-face social interactions thereby potentially increasing student engagement, motivation, and favourable emotions conducive to learning.

This study’s first aim was to examine the impact of learning designs employing APAs on novice learners’ academic writing, writing anxiety, and writing self-efficacy. Its second aim was to examine the influence of various delivery options (didactic delivery or scaffolded questioning) with support messages (emotional, motivational or neither) on writing competence, writing anxiety and writing self-efficacy.

These aims were achieved in a mixed-method study that included six experimental conditions tested using two multimedia academic writing lessons provided to 106 participants who were new to Australian tertiary studies. Quantitative data were collected immediately before and after the lessons (Phase 1), while qualitative data were obtained by interviews with a subset of participants after Lesson 2 (Phase 2). The impact of the independent variable combinations on the dependent variables were examined quantitatively (General Linear Modelling, t-tests) and qualitatively (thematic analysis).

The results demonstrate that completing two academic writing lessons with APAs can increase writing competence and self-efficacy, and reduce writing anxiety. However, no significant differences were found between the support and delivery groups. Despite the lack of significant inter-group differences, more participants from the emotional group reported that their negative emotions were reduced because of the lesson. Also, all the participants in the motivational group reported perceptions of writing improvement as a result of attending the lessons.

The overall positive result suggests promising possibilities for writing support delivered online to counter student under preparedness for academic writing.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): IT, Media and Communications
Supervisor(s): McGill, Tanya, Volet, Simone and Wang, Alex
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/63825
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