A neurofeedback system to promote learner engagement

James Lockwood; Aidan Mooney; Susan Bergin

This paper describes a series of experiments that track novice programmer’s engagement during two attention based tasks. The tasks required participants to watch a tutorial video on introductory programming and to attend to a simple maze game whilst wearing an electroencephalogram (EEG) device called the Emotiv EPOC. The EPOC’s proprietary software includes a system which tracks emotional state (specifically: engagement, excitement, meditation, frustration, valence and long-term excitement). Using this data, a software application written in the Processing language was developed to track user’s engagement levels and implement a neurofeedback based intervention when engagement fell below an acceptable level. The aim of the intervention was to prompt learners who disengaged with the task to re-engage. The intervention used during the video tutorial was to pause the video if a participant disengaged significantly. However other interventions such as slowing the video down, playing a noise or darkening/brightening the screen could also be used. For the maze game, the caterpillar moving through the maze slowed in line with disengagement and moved more quickly once the learner re-engaged. The approach worked very well and successfully re-engaged participants, although a number of improvements could be made. A number of interesting findings on the comparative engagement levels of different groups e.g. by gender and by age etc. were identified and provide useful pointers for future research studies.

Type of Publication: Paper
Conference: PPIG 2016 - 27th Annual Conference
Publication Year: 2016
Paper #: 28
TitleA neurofeedback system to promote learner engagement
Publication TypePaper
AuthorsLockwood, J, Mooney, A, Bergin, S
PPIG Workshop: 
2016-09-27th