Examining the Use of Avatars as an Educational Tool for Those with ASD

Research Study
Persons with ASD characteristically process information differently than their typically developed peers (Carter, Williams, Hodgins, & Lehman, 2014; Jarrold, et al., 2013; Moore, Cheng, McGrath, & Powell, 2005; Parsons, 2016). Current research examining technology use for those with ASD has shown that when individuals with ASD are presented with information in a mediated context it can impact performance outcomes (Jarrold, et al., 2013; Parsons, 2016), attention (Carter et al, 2014), social skills (Moore et al., 2005) and decision making.

Researchers, developers, and teachers need to consider how to optimize mediated environments for those with developmental disorders, such as those with ASD. Researchers have used several variations of robots and avatars, and non-human-like characters and robots are preferred by those with ASD (Begum, Serna, & Yanco, 2016; Hart, 2005). However, a more research is needed to explain the mediating role of technology and avatars as teachers and how this will impact instructor satisfaction (Gunwardena, 1995; Rovai, 2007; Sherblom, 2010).
Cognitive overload and information processing theories posit that individuals have a limited capacity for processing information and in the presence of competing stimuli no single message will receive sufficient attention for processing (McGuire, 1968; Jeong & Fishbein, 2007; Mayer & Moreno, 2003; Junco, 2012). Furthermore, the body of research examining ASD and avatars has largely been focused on behaviors such as social skills and language, and has not examined the simultaneous processing of affective and task related information on attitudes and decision making.
Therefore, this research will examine the impact of processing information in mediated learning that is both directed at the source of the message (affective content) and content directed at a specific target goal (learning how to craft a professional e-mail). This research will test several relationships i) investigate the relationship between different instructors (human and non-human) and perceptions of anthropomorphism for individuals with ASD and those that do not have a diagnosis of ASD ii) investigate the relationship between anthropomorphism, homophily, and perceptions of co-presence and credibility for those with ASD and iii) the impact on perceived instructor effectiveness and attitudes.

email: brourke@nwmissouri.edu
Published on: Oct 13, 2021 at 09:48

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