Developing an engagement and social interaction model for a robotic educational agent
Brown, LaVonda N.
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Effective educational agents should accomplish four essential goals during a student's learning process: 1) monitor engagement, 2) re-engage when appropriate, 3) teach novel tasks, and 4) improve retention. In this dissertation, we focus on all of these objectives through use of a teaching device (computer, tablet, or virtual reality game) and a robotic educational agent. We begin by developing and validating an engagement model based on the interactions between the student and the teaching device. This model uses time, performance, and/or eye gaze to determine the student's level of engagement. We then create a framework for implementing verbal and nonverbal, or gestural, behaviors on a humanoid robot and evaluate its perception and effectiveness for social interaction. These verbal and nonverbal behaviors are applied throughout the learning scenario to re-engage the students when the engagement model deems it necessary. Finally, we describe and validate the entire educational system that uses the engagement model to activate the behavioral strategies embedded on the robot when learning a new task. We then follow-up this study to evaluate student retention when using this system. The outcome of this research is the development of an educational system that effectively monitors student engagement, applies behavioral strategies, teaches novel tasks, and improves student retention to achieve individualized learning.