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Artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing technologies have fuelled the growth of Pedagogical Conversational Agents (PCAs) with empathic conversational capabilities. However, no systematic literature review has explored the intersection between conversational agents, education and emotion. Therefore, this study aimed to outline the key aspects of designing, implementing and evaluating these agents. The data sources were empirical studies, including peer-reviewed conference papers and journal articles, and the most recent publications, from the ACM Digital Library, IEEE Xplore, ProQuest, ScienceDirect, Scopus, SpringerLink, Taylor & Francis Online, Web of Science and Wiley Online Library. The remaining papers underwent a rigorous quality assessment. A filter study meeting the objective was based on keywords. Comparative analysis and synthesis of results were used to handle data and combine study outcomes. Out of 1162 search results, 13 studies were selected. The results indicate that agents promote dialogic learning, proficiency in knowledge domains, personalized feedback and empathic abilities as essential design principles. Most implementations employ a quantitative approach, and two variables are used for evaluation. Feedback types play a vital role in achieving positive results in learning performance and student perceptions. The main limitations and gaps are the time range for literature selection, the level of integration of the empathic field and the lack of a detailed development stage report. Moreover, future directions are the ethical implications of agents operating beyond scheduled learning times and the adoption of Responsible AI principles. In conclusion, this review provides a comprehensive framework of empathic PCAs, mostly in their evaluation. The systematic review registration number is

Publication date: December 6, 2023.

Description: Journal article.


How to cite (APA Seventh edition):

Ortega-Ochoa, E., Arguedas, M., & Daradoumis, T. (2023). Empathic pedagogical conversational agents: A systematic literature review. British Journal of Educational Technology, 00, 1–24.

Elvis Ortega-Ochoa

Elvis Ortega-Ochoa

Researcher in eLearning

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