We are exploring whether the use of facilities aimed at improving the learner's motivation has an effect on learning food-chains and food-webs, but also on help-seeking behaviour. The M-Ecolab is a Vygotskyan intelligent learning environment that incorporates both cognitive and affective feedback by combining a cognitive model capable of providing written feedback at the cognitive and meta-cognitive level and a model-driven, considerate more-able partner who gives spoken, affective feedback. A preliminary study of the effects of the M-Ecolab in learning was carried out in a real-class situation. The results showed that learners in the M-Ecolab had significantly greater learning in their post-test scores than students in the control condition in which affective feedback was not available. Moreover, in the M-Ecolab, engaged students (those having an above-average use of the motivating facilities) tended to look more effectively both for quality and quantity of help resulting in more fruitful interactions.
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