The current work examined the influence of pedagogical agents as social models to increase females' interest in engineering. Seventy-nine female undergraduate students rated pedagogical agents on a series of factors (e.g., most like themselves, most like an engineer, and most prefer to learn from). The agents were identical with the exception of differing by appearance/image in four aspects (age, gender, attractiveness, “coolness”). After selecting the agent from which they most preferred to learn, participants interacted with it for approximately 15 minutes and received a persuasive message about engineering. Results indicated that the women were more likely to choose a female, attractive, young, and cool agent as most like themselves and the one they most wanted to be like. However, they tended to select male, older, uncool agents as the most like engineers and tended to choose to learn about engineering from agents that were male and attractive, but uncool. Interacting with an agent had a positive impact on math-related beliefs. Specifically, the women reported more positive math and science related beliefs compared to their attitudes at the beginning of the semester and compared to a group of women who did not interact with an agent. Further, among the women who viewed an agent, the older version of the agent had a stronger positive influence on their math-related beliefs than the younger agent.
IOS Press, Inc.
6751 Tepper Drive
Clifton, VA 20124
Tel.: +1 703 830 6300
Fax: +1 703 830 2300 firstname.lastname@example.org
(Corporate matters and books only) IOS Press c/o Accucoms US, Inc.
For North America Sales and Customer Service
West Point Commons
Lansdale PA 19446
Tel.: +1 866 855 8967
Fax: +1 215 660 5042 email@example.com