Educational Research Review vol:6 issue:1 pages:27-54
Pedagogical agents, characters that guide through multimedia learning environments, recently gained increasing interest. A review was published by Clarebout, Elen, Johnson and Shaw in 2002 where a lot of promises were made, but research on the motivational and learning effects of pedagogical agents was scarce. More than 70 articles on pedagogical agents have been published since, and 26 of them examine motivational and learning effects. We map out this research in order to answer three main questions: Do pedagogical agents facilitate learner motivation and learning? Under what conditions are they effective? How should they be designed? The review reveals that various studies have not investigated the first two fundamental questions due to a lack of control groups. As research on pedagogical agents is highly complex, we propose a multi-level framework to enable systematic comparisons between different studies and the identification of gaps in the literature. This framework can be further applied to conceptualize and situate future studies.