Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Gregory M. Schechtman, PhD.


A fast-growing trend in e-learning environments is the investment in avatar technology to deliver an engaging and interesting learning experience. E-learning itself has limited and inconsistent research into its learning effectiveness, and this is especially true for innovative avatar instructional methods. The purpose of this research was to develop a generalizable theory that can be used to assess the learning effectiveness of various media types used in e-learning environments. A research model was developed and used to study a U.S. Air Force Squadron Officer School Distance Learning program that used avatar, video, audio, and text-based scenarios to reinforce learning objectives. It was hypothesized that media with higher levels of learning engagement (LE) would lead to more favorable reactions and thus higher levels of understanding. While text and audio showed positive LE results, the hypotheses for both avatar and video influence on LE were not supported. Results also showed full and partial support for LE leading to favorable learning outcomes. The model developed in this research identified the learning effectiveness of an e-learning program and can be used to guide education and training investment decisions based on proven learning outcomes rather than the surface appeal of emotional interest and engagement features.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number