Automatic Detection of Learning-Centered Affective States in the Wild

Abstract: Affect detection is a key component in developing intelligent educational interfaces that are capable of responding to the affective needs of students. In this paper, computer vision and machine learning techniques were used to detect students’ affect as they used an educational game designed to teach fundamental principles of Newtonian physics. Data were collected in the real-world environment of a school computer lab, which provides unique challenges for detection of affect from facial expressions (primary channel) and gross body movements (secondary channel)—up to thirty students at a time participated in the class, moving around, gesturing, and talking to each other. Results were cross validated at the student level to ensure generalization to new students. Classification was successful at levels above chance for off- task behavior (area under receiver operating characteristic curve or AUC = .816) and each affective state including boredom (AUC =.610), confusion (.649), delight (.867), engagement (.679), and frustration (.631) as well as a five- way overall classification of affect (.655), despite the noisy nature of the data. Implications and prospects for affect- sensitive interfaces for educational software in classroom environments are discussed.

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