Mai, V., Neef, C. and Richert, A. (2022). “Clicking vs. Writing”—The Impact of a Chatbot’s Interaction Method on the Working Alliance in AI-based Coaching. Coaching | Theorie & Praxis. Online-first.
Coaching has become an important didactic tool for reflecting learning processes in higher education. Digital media and AI-based technologies such as chatbots can support stimulating self-coaching processes. For the use case of student coaching on the topic of exam anxiety, the working alliance between a coaching chatbot and a human coachee is investigated. Two coachbot interaction methods are compared: A click-based chatbot (implemented in a rule-based system), where the coachee can only click on one answer, and a writing-based chatbot (implemented in a conversational AI), which allows the coachee to freely type in their answers. The focus is on which coachbot interaction method enables a stronger working alliance between coach and coachee: a click-based or a writing-based chatbot. The working alliance and the technical realization of the chatbot systems were investigated in an exploratory quantitative study with 21 engineering students. The results indicate that the working alliance in both study conditions can be classified as medium to high overall. The results further show higher values for bonding on a writing-based platform than when using a click-based system. However, click-based systems seem to be more helpful as a low-threshold entry point to coaching, as they guide coachees better through the process by providing predefined answers. An evaluation of the technical realization shows that self-reflection processes through digital self-coaching via chatbot are generally well accepted by students. For further development and research, it is therefore recommendable to develop a “mixed” coachbot that allows interaction via clicking as well as via free writing.