The Impact of Conversational Navigational Guides on the Learning, Use, and Perceptions of Users of a Web Site

Art Graesser, G. Tanner Jackson, Matthew Ventura, James Mueller, Xiangen Hu, and Natalie Person

Knowledge management systems will presumably benefit from intelligent interfaces, including those with animated conversational agents. One of the functions of an animated conversational agent is to serve as a navigational guide that nudges the user how to use the interface in a productive way. This is a different function from delivering the content of the material. We conducted a study on college students who used a web facility in one of four navigational guide conditions: Full Guide (speech and face), Voice Guide, Print Guide, and No Guide. The web site was the Human Use Regulatory Affairs Advisor (HURAA), a webbased facility that provides help and training on research ethics, based on documents and regulations in United States Federal agencies. The college students used HURAA to complete a number of learning modules and document retrieval tasks. There was no significant facilitation of any of the guides on several measures of learning and performance, compared with the No Guide condition. This result suggests that the potential benefits of conversational guides are not ubiquitous, but they may save time and increase learning under specific conditions that are yet to be isolated.

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