University of Twente Student Theses


Nonverbal Communication of Anthropomorphism and its Effect on the Perception of Online Education Platforms

Klein, A.V.E. (2016) Nonverbal Communication of Anthropomorphism and its Effect on the Perception of Online Education Platforms.

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Abstract:Online learning platforms support the learning process in higher education. They can have positive and negative effects on the learning process (Bent, Bologna and Dzitac, 2014; Fryer, Bovee and Nakao, 2014). To increase the positive effect of such platforms, pedagogical agents are used (Schroeder and Adesope, 2012). These agents can also be used to follow marketing matters and become anthropomorphisms of brands. An anthropomorphism is the humanisation of non-living objects (Blanchard and McNinch, 2001). When using facial expressions and gestures the human resemblance is supported and they are perceived positively by users (King and Watt, 2013). This thesis explored the effects of anthropomorphism and nonverbal communication on the perception of the learning platform and the used agent.The research followed a between subject 2 (gestures: present vs. absent) x 2 (facial expressions: present vs. absent) design. The German online education platform Lecturio was used to implement the agent. 179 participants answered took part in the study. The results did not meet the expectations. Neither facial expressions (present vs. absent) nor gestures (present vs. absent) showed a significant effect.The same holds for the use of anthropomorphic agent vs. no anthropomorphic agent. However, the descriptive data showed that the use of gestures alone scored the lowest rating, indicating gestures alone create the least level of human resemblance. The insight of this study suggests, that the field of anthropomorphism, following a marketing purpose in online education, needs to be explored further to find the most appropriate agent.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies, 54 computer science
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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