Crystal Island 8: Pedagogical Agents for Dynamic High-Performance Inquiry-Based Learning

Concluded in 2014

Pedagogical agents are embodied software agents that have emerged as a promising vehicle for promoting effective learning.  They provide customized problem-solving experiences and advice that are precisely tailored to individual learners in specific contexts. By co-habiting a rich inquiry-based learning environment with learners, pedagogical agents can meticulously observe learners’ problem solving activities, offer situated advice, and actively support learners’ iterating through cycles of questioning, hypothesis generation, data collection, and hypothesis testing.

The objective of the project is to design, build and empirically evaluate Bayesian pedagogical agents that leverage probabilistic computational models that systematically reason about the multitude of factors that bear on decision making to infer learners’ beliefs, goals, and plans, including strategy use, from their problem-solving actions.  By introducing pedagogical agents into the visually engaging environments that typify high-end game platforms and embedding them in dynamically generated science narratives, it addresses the complementary goals of achievement and engagement.

To learn more about Crystal Island 8, visit the CEI website.

Crystal Island 8 is part of the New Literacies Collaborative. For more information, please visit


James Lester
Principal Investigator

Dr. Hiller Spires
Co-Principal Investigator

John Nietfeld
Co-Principal Investigator

Erin Lyjak
Research Associate