Vicarious learning: Effects of overhearing dialog and monologue-like discourse in a virtual tutoring session


In two experiments, students overheard two computer-controlled virtual agents discussing four computer literacy topics in dialog discourse and four in monologue discourse. In Experiment 1, the virtual tutee asked a series of deep questions in the dialog condition, but only one per topic in the monologue condition in both studies. In the dialog conditions of Experiment 2, the virtual tutee asked either deep questions, shallow questions, or made comments. In a fourth "dialog" condition, the comments were spoken by the virtual tutor. The discourse spoken by the virtual tutor was identical in the dialog and monologue conditions, except in the fourth dialog condition. In both studies, learners wrote significantly more content and significantly more relevant content in the deep question condition than in the monologue condition. No other differences were significant. Results were discussed in terms of advanced organizers, schema theory, and discourse comprehension theory.

Publication Title

Journal of Educational Computing Research