Faculty of Science and Engineering: Computing - Empathic Agents to Support Understanding Science in a Virtual Learning Environment

Faculty of Science and Engineering: Computing - Empathic Agents to Support Understanding Science in a Virtual Learning Environment

Department

Computing

Project Name

Empathic Agents to Support Understanding Science in a Virtual Learning Environment

Project Description

Research has found that learner relationships (teacher and peer) involving computer-based learning are similar to the equivalent human-human learning relationships in the classroom. Intelligent Virtual Agent (IVA) research over the past decade has focused on the creation of characters that are socially capable requiring IVAs to have good verbal and non-verbal communication skills including congruent language, facial expressions and body gestures. More recently, there is strong interest in affective agents who are able to express emotions. The work on empathetic or empathic agents goes even further as the IVA seeks to demonstrate understanding of the emotional state of the human and respond in a way that is supportive. This work has been found to deliver improved interactions. Despite growing interest in affective and empathetic agents to create intelligent agents that are more believable and socially capable, their use in education is emerging. This project will involve the design, development and evaluation of the use of empathetic agents in a multi-user virtual environment to support basic self-regulated learning strategies. The project is likely to incorporate the use of data/learning analytics to inform the IVA about the human’s learning progress to provide personalised support to the learner.

Other Important information

The project is part of larger and ongoing ARC-funded Discovery grant "Agent-based virtual learning environments for understanding science", and it involves a collaboration between Macquarie University and the University of Sydney.

Contact
Prof. Deborah Richards
deborah.richards@mq.edu.au
02 98509567

This scholarship is available to eligible candidates to undertake direct entry into a 3 year PhD program. Prospective PhD applicants should have completed the equivalent of Macquarie University’s Master of Research (MRes) degree, MPhil or other 2 year Masters degree with a major research component with excellent results. Refer to the HDR Entry Criteria for more information about this.

The value and tenure of the scholarship is:

  • The MQRTP full-time stipend rate is $26,682 per annum (in 2017 tax exempt, for up to 3 years (indexed annually))
  • The scholarship is comprised of a Tuition Fee Offset and a Living Allowance Stipend.

Applicants will need to complete a HDR Candidature and Scholarship Application Form and arrange for two academic referee reports to be submitted to the Higher Degree Research Office. The application form and further information can be found on the Application page.   

To be eligible for a scholarship, applicants are expected to have a record of excellent academic performance and preferably, additional relevant research experience and/or peer-reviewed research activity, awards and/or prizes in line with the University’s scholarship rating guidelines. Refer to the Rating Scholarship Applicants section for more information about these guidelines.

Macquarie University will advise the successful applicant of entitlements at the time of scholarship offer.

Please quote the allocation number on your application.

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