Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Glenn Smith, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Sanghoon Park, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Wendy Bedwell, Ph.D.


instructional technology, pedagogical agent, situational interest


This research examined how four different animated pedagogical agent implementations, which focus on perceptual and inquiry arousal conditions of attention as defined in Keller’s ARCS model of motivational design (Keller, 2009), impact English language learners' situational interest, cognitive load, and reading comprehension in online readings tasks. Animated pedagogical agents (APA) are computer characters embodied with speech, gestures, or movement (Sweller, Ayres, & Kalyuga, 2011), which according to cognitive-affective theory of learning with media (CATLM; Moreno, 2005; Moreno & Mayer, 2007), can provide a mechanism for triggering situational interest in reading materials through different arousal conditions. In this study, perceptual arousal and inquiry arousal were implemented in two different levels within four APA conditions: high perceptual arousal and high inquiry arousal condition, high perceptual and low inquiry condition, low perceptual and high inquiry condition, and low perceptual and low inquiry condition. Study outcome variables included situational interest, cognitive load, and reading comprehension. Situational interest is a psychological construct defined as a specific person-to-topic relationship, which is triggered by the instructional environment during the first stage of a 4-phase model of interest development (Hidi & Renninger, 2006; Krapp, 2002). In this study, situational interest was operationally defined as a self-reported degree of attention and an affective reaction to environmental stimuli; situational interest was measured using a 6-item, 5-point Likert-scale instrument adopted from Rotgans and Schmidt’s (2011b) experiment. Cognitive load is defined in cognitive load theory as a mental effort in working memory, part of which may contribute to formation of mental schemas in long-vi term memory structures (Sweller et al., 1998, p. 259). In this study, three types of cognitive load were examined, including extraneous cognitive load, intrinsic cognitive load, and germane cognitive load. The three types of cognitive load were operationally defined as self-reported complexity, clarity and effectiveness of the presentation, and increase in knowledge and understanding of a topic. The three types of cognitive load were measured using a 10-item, 11- point Likert-scale questionnaire, which was validated in prior studies (Leppink et al., 2013). The last outcome variable, reading comprehension, was measured using multiple-choice recall and understanding questions included with each original text passage. This study did not find any evidence of perceptual or inquiry arousal effects on situational interest, however, disordinal interaction between perceptual and inquiry arousal levels on germane cognitive load was found. Also, a main effect of inquiry arousal levels on reading comprehension was discovered.