ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2017, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (1): 12-28.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2017.00012

• Meta-Analysis • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Is pedagogical agent in multimedia learning good for learning? A meta-analysis

WANG Fuxing; LI Wenjing; XIE Heping; LIU Huashan   

  1. (School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China)
  • Received:2016-05-08 Online:2017-01-15 Published:2017-01-15
  • Contact: LIU Huashan, E-mail:


Pedagogical agents are lifelike characters presented on a computer screen that facilitate learners’ performances.Pedagogical agents in the multimedia learning are important in computer-assisted learning and instructional design. First, we reviewed the definition of pedagogical agent, and introduced theories related with pedagogical agent. It was found that the effects of pedagogical agent on multimedia learning were debatable. Second, based on the empirical studies, a meta-analysis was conducted to examine the positive and negative effects of pedagogical agent on learning. Results of meta-analysis revealed that pedagogical agent could effectively improve scores on the retention tests (g = 0.19), transfer tests (g = 0.39) and other tests (g = 0.31). However, it did not facilitate learners’ motivations and interests. These results were consistent with the Social Agency Theory. However, the Social Presence Theory still needs to be further tested. Third, moderator analyses indicated that different variables were moderated by different factors, such as voice, gesture, disciplines and self-paced or computer paced learning. Pedagogical agents with computer-edited voices facilitated learners’ interests (g = 0.81) than those without voice. Pedagogical agents were more beneficial to K-12 students (g = 0.51) than adults. Pedagogical agents improved participants’ scores on transfer tests when the materials focused on science and technology (g = 0.46) rather than the humanities. Moreover, compared with no gestures, pedagogical agents with gestures could improve participants’ scores on transfer tests (g = 0.67). Future research should explore the effect of pedagogical agents extensively on learners’ attention, and the mechanisms underlie the beneficial effect of pedagogical agents, as well as pedagogical agent’s gestures on learning.

Key words: multimedia learning, pedagogical agent, meta-analysis, moderator