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Students’ Perception of Motivation to Learn: Does an Avatar Motivate?

MAZLAN, MOHAMMAD,NUR,AZHAR (2012) Students’ Perception of Motivation to Learn: Does an Avatar Motivate? Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Context: This research investigates students’ perception of motivation to learn among students at one of the public university in Malaysia. Students were provided with an avatar as well as an avatar environment called the Avatar Hall. The Avatar Hall was developed in order for the student to access their avatar. Although other studies have been carried out when an avatar is constantly displayed on the screen, while students having their learning with Computer-based Learning (CBL) environment, where learning is conducted fully on the CBL, this research is primarily focused on the context of having an avatar when it is not displayed constantly to the students when students is having their learning in conventional learning environment (attending lecture).

Aim: The aim of the research is to investigate the effect of having an avatar alongside learning activities.

Method: This research is an empirical research where students have been given access to the Avatar Hall alongside their learning activities. There were two experiments conducted in this research, Experiment 1 and Experiment 2. A total number of 71 first year students from the Department of Cognitive Science and 45 first year students from the Department of Human Resource Development were selected to participate in this research. These students were further grouped into three: human character avatar (treatment 1), text avatar (treatment 2) and non-avatar (control group). As the name implied, students who were in treatment 1 will be offered a human-type avatar character, whereas students in treatment 2 had a text as their avatar. Students in the control group did not get any of avatar character or avatar name.

The Avatar Hall was developed and categorised into two: attribute-based environment (AbE) and ranking-based environment (RbE). The AbE environment was designed for treatment 1 whereas the RbE environment was designed for treatment 2. In the AbE environment, students were offered an opportunity to view and personalise their human avatar character. Students who were in the RbE environment, on the other hand, were presented of a ranking board where their text avatar was placed.

The research instrument used in this research was a motivation inventory, designed and developed by Ryan and Deci (2008). This inventory was modified according to the needs of the research. It was used to measure students' perceptions of motivation to learn. The inventory was consisted of Likert-type statements, each with five choices of response from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree".

Results: The results from the statistical analysis indicate that students in Experiment 2 were more motivated than students in Experiment 1, specifically from the human character avatar group. In addition, students who used the text avatar in Experiment 1 were accessing the Avatar Hall more often than students who used the text avatar in Experiment 2.

Conclusions: This research has shown that having a human character avatar, in comparison with a text avatar and non-avatar, in their learning environment does give an opportunity to offer an alternative factor to motivate students to learn, even though the existence of an avatar and the Avatar Hall environments was applied in the conventional learning environment.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Avatar, Motivation
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Science > Engineering and Computing Science, School of (2008-2017)
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:31 Jan 2012 11:06

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