Computer-mediated systems can support aging in-place, although little is known about how older adults interact with these systems and how they learn from them. Using a Wizard-of-Oz paradigm, this study compared how older adults interacted and learned with a system that they believed was a human, and with a system they believed was a computer. While both systems were identical, the human system used natural speech and the computer system used synthetic speech. In a within-subjects design, twenty-four older adults aged 60-85 years completed a collaborative learning task with both the human and computer systems. The task involved negotiating and learning referential labels for abstract tangram shapes. A learning effect was observed in both conditions. However, participants took longer to complete the task when they believed they were interacting with a computer, were less accurate in their answers, changed their answers more, and recalled them with less detail after a delay, compared to when they believed they were interacting with a human. These findings suggest that beliefs about agency affect how efficiently and how accurately older adults learn with technology, which has implications for computer mediated support in aging.
- social interaction
- collaborative learning