The Effectiveness of a Robot Animal as a Virtual Instructor

Alexandra Sierra Rativa, Marie Postma, Menno van Zaanen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


The use of virtual robot animals (VRAs) can have a potential impact on applications with affective and aesthetic interfaces. In particular, VRAs can be used in instructional videos in order to develop new ways to engage young learners and to foster personalization of educational instruction. In this paper, we explore the perception of the virtual instructor appearance and its effect on knowledge recall outcomes for young learners. We conducted an experiment with three different virtual instructor appearances: (1) robot animal, (2) animal, and (3) human. The content of the video instruction had two themes: (A) A topic related to robotics (e.g., introductory concepts about robotics), and (B) a topic unrelated to robotics (e.g., Dutch culture). A total of 131 students participated in this study. They originated from two secondary public schools in Bogota, Colombia. Our results showed that the robot animal as a virtual instructor was perceived as the least familiar, common, attractive, interesting, and natural compared with the virtual instructors with the animal and human appearance. Moreover, learners in the condition with the virtual robot animal scored significantly lower on knowledge recall for both topics. A follow-up study can focus on ways to increase positive reactions toward robotic animals as virtual instructors. Video about this research:
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRobotics in Education
Editors W. Lepuschitz, M. Merdan, G. Koppensteiner, R. Balogh, D. Obdržálek
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9783030674113
ISBN (Print)9783030674106
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2021


  • Virtual instructor
  • virtual teacher
  • Design
  • Knowledge recall
  • virtual animals
  • robotics
  • education


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