Applying an Agent-based Model to Simulate Just-In-Time Support for Keeping Users of eLearning Courses Motivated

Mark Scholten*, Saskia Kelders, Julia van Gemert-Pijnen, Henderien Steenbeek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Persuasive technology can support users of self-paced eLearning courses during critical moments of low motivation. Agent-based models (ABMs) - a relatively unfamiliar phenomenon within the persuasive technology and eLearning domains- offers a potentially relevant methodology to understand when the support should be delivered. Using ABMs, the dynamics of motivational user states can be simulated. Subsequently, emerging user patterns can be traced that can potentially provide insight in the ebb and flow of motivation. For the purpose of this study, we designed an exploratory ABM on motivation based on the mental energy notion of which the foundations can be found both within the literature of motivational psychology and agent-based modeling. During the simulations we succeeded in generating moments of critically low user motivation. In addition, we were able to simulate the positive impact of external user support at those critical moments. These results suggest that it is plausible to put further energy in developing ABM models with the ultimate goal of feeding persuasive technology with the ability to deliver just-in-time user support during eLearning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-429
Number of pages27
JournalNonlinear dynamics, psychology, and life sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1-Oct-2020


  • Agent-Based Model
  • e-learning courses

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