Measuring the noticing of an unexpected event in Magical Garden with a Teachable Agent using Eye-Tracking

University essay from Lunds universitet/Kognitionsvetenskap

Abstract: Scientific views on what children are capable of have been revised through history again and again, usually when new methods of studying children’s capabilities are presented. What has often been concluded is that children are capable of more than what was previously thought. New technology has introduced a genre of educational games which utilize the captivating power of computer games which have shown a positive effect on learning and motivation. In this study, the educational game Magical Garden was used as a platform to train, teach, and test number sense. The pedagogical instrument Teachable Agent (TA) is a part of Magical Garden’s design which utilizes the protégé effect. A new method of measuring number sense, detecting an “unexpected event” by attending to it, is pro-posed and tested. The unexpected event was a tree elevator malfunction. The purpose of the unexpected event was to create a task where only the children who were attentive and knew which branch the elevator would go to would react to and detect the unexpected event. A model of detection of the unexpected event, looking back at the correct branch after the elevator passed the correct one, was proposed. Eye-tracking was used as the method of capturing detections of the unexpected event, as well as measuring the interaction between the children and the TA during the unexpected event. In this study, 42 preschoolers participated. The results show that children attend the TA significantly more when the TA was in charge of the decisions in the game. This indicates that preschoolers understand that the TA was in charge. The model of detection used in this study was not comprehensive. However, detecting an unexpected event could still be a promising method of measuring number sense. Therefore, future research could utilize this method to unveil more exciting capabilities of children with a more inclusive model of detection.

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