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Toward Understanding The Impacts Of Role Model Avatars On Engagement In Computer Science Learning


"Studies show that using role models can boost academic performance of learners (Lockwood, 2006; Marx & Roman, 2002). In this paper, we describe an experiment (N=1067) exploring the impacts of varying types of avatar on engagement in an educational game. The different conditions include role models and (c) the non-role model case of simple geometric shapes (for baseline comparison). Using the Game Experience Questionnaire (GEQ) (IJsselsteijn, Kort, Poels, Jurgelionis, & Bellotti, 2007), we find that female participants using role model case (scientist avatars) had significantly higher engagement than female participants using non-scientist or shape avatars. This result suggests that STEM role model avatars have the potential to enhance engagement in educational games, which could in turn influence learning outcomes (Blumenfeld, Kempler, & Krajcik, 2005)."