Learning with agents and avatars in gameful virtual/augmented/mixed reality applications

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Selen Turkay
Lecturer in Computer Human Interaction
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Immersive interfaces enhance learning experiences by situating learners into a specific authentic-feeling context; they provide learners with multisensory experiences. Good games excel at teaching players skills required to play the game, and testing the comprehension and application of these skills playfully yet systematically in such authentic contexts. Gameful design is the process of applying the principles of what makes games engaging and motivating to non-game settings.

This project will explore using relevant theories and principles (e.g., Flow theory, Self-Determination Theory) as a lens to apply game design principles to VR-based learning environments. It will also investigate how we can scaffold learning of math and science concepts through designing gameful interactions with agents and avatars in immersive interfaces such as virtual/augmented and mixed realities.

Example tasks include collaborative problem solving or annotating. The study will also examine 1) effects of different types of agents and avatars on learners’ engagement and learning outcomes. 2) the extent to which embodied identification with avatars and their success in immersive environments affect learners’ self-efficacy and may transfer to other educational settings.

Research activities

The scope of the study depends on the study level. Research activities may involve:

  • A literature review
  • Game analysis
  • Participatory design
  • Interviews and online surveys
  • Data analysis


The project outcomes include a better understanding of how people learn with agents and avatars in immersive reality settings; a set of design principles and interaction techniques designed for collaboration with agents and avatars in those setting.

Skills and experience

  • Background in computer human interaction, learning sciences or a relevant field.
  • Computer graphics or game engine development skills
  • Prototyping skills, and knowledge of quantitative and qualitative research methods.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.