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Ann G. Neering: Interactive Chatbot To Motivate And Engage Engineering Students

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Computational Tools and Simulation III

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.181.1 - 15.181.13



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Paper Authors

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Stephen Crown University of Texas, Pan American

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Arturo Fuentes University of Texas, Pan American

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Robert Jones University of Texas, Pan American

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Rajiv Nambiar University of Texas, Pan American

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Deborah Crown San Jose State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Anne G. Neering: Interactive Chatbot to Motivate and Engage Engineering Students


Student motivation and engagement are essential ingredients to academic success. Although the relationship is clear, the challenge is finding what pedagogical methods and context motivates students and engages them to a point where they become active participants in the learning process. An effective approach to discovering what will motivate and engage students is to focus on student’s interests, goals, aspirations, and values. With a better understanding of students it is possible to develop an effective learning environment or activity that is embraced by students, leads them to a deeper level of learning, and entices them to become lifelong learners. This approach was the starting point in the development of an online artificial intelligence or “chatbot” named Anne G. Neering (EnGiNeering). The chatbot is a computer program delivered on course websites that serves as a text based conversational agent. The purpose of this interactive online learning environment is to encourage students to think reflectively on course fundamentals. Although providing students with access to a complex artificial intelligence focused on course fundamentals is a valuable byproduct, the greatest value lies in the student motivation and engagement associated with development of the knowledge base. Student involvement in the process of building Anne's knowledge base has proven to be instructional and fun. The knowledge base is built from individual and cooperative student interactions. As part of assigned coursework students formulate questions based on their perceptions of course fundamentals and attempt to provide responses that are consistent with their own knowledge and in a way that other students would relate to and clearly understand. An evaluation mode uses student interaction to assess the accuracy of student responses and provides an interesting environment for open ended student interaction on course concepts. The development and assessment of the knowledge base is primarily the work of students but is somewhat hidden from the users. The “chatbot” is currently being tested by four engineering professors and one business professor with seven undergraduate courses. The paper outlines the response of students to this learner centered environment and its impact on student motivation, engagement, and ultimately academic success. The success of this learning environment is also explained in terms of its relationship to the four dimensions of the HPL learning environments and the STAR Legacy cycle.


Student motivation and engagement are essential ingredients to academic success. One of the challenges facing faculty is how to relate to students who are often very different from their teachers and who may best learn and process information differently than previous generations. One of the driving factors in this change is new technology that is having a significant impact on society and the average college student. One of the recent changes popular among students is the prevalence of online chat and text messaging. Students are comfortable with communication based short text-based exchanges of information. Leveraging the popularity of this mode of communication may provide another mechanism to interest students in engineering and possibly

Crown, S., & Fuentes, A., & Jones, R., & Nambiar, R., & Crown, D. (2010, June), Ann G. Neering: Interactive Chatbot To Motivate And Engage Engineering Students Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16687

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