New Computers Respond to Students’ Emotions, Boredom

ScienceDaily (Mar. 2, 2012) — Emotion-sensing computer software that models and responds to students’ cognitive and emotional states — including frustration and boredom — has been developed by University of Notre Dame Assistant Professor of Psychology Sidney D’Mello, Art Graesser from the University of Memphis and a colleague from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. D’Mello also is a concurrent assistant professor of computer science and engineering.

The new technology, which matches the interaction of human tutors, not only offers tremendous learning possibilities for students, but also redefines human-computer interaction.

“AutoTutor” and “Affective AutoTutor” can gauge the student’s level of knowledge by asking probing questions; analyzing the student’s responses to those questions; proactively identifying and correcting misconceptions; responding to the student’s own questions, gripes and comments; and even sensing a student’s frustration or boredom through facial expression and body posture and dynamically changing its strategies to help the student conquer those negative emotions.

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