Have you ever been frustrated while trying to learn something new? If you are like the rest of us, the process became infinitely harder after getting upset. It’s natural, we are human after all and as humans, emotions play a critical role in the learning process.
Emotions have an impact on education, arguably, more than any other component. They can determine how driven a student is towards school, or how removed from the learning experience they could become.
Studies have shown that students learn and perform better when they are happy, feel secure, and are excited about the content which they are learning. Emotions can also interfere with a student’s learning or distract them from the task at hand.
Every excellent teacher possesses an innate ability to understand their students’ emotions and adjust their teaching style to accommodate. But what happens when a skilled teacher isn’t around to observe a child’s reactions? A lack of understanding can begin to develop when a child goes home and does their homework, frustrated with little or no direct support to help them through the trouble areas, or adjust the content delivery to meet their individual needs.
Harnessing The Power Of Emotions
Emotion sensing technology may provide teachers with the tools they need to bridge the ‘homework gap’. A recent Canadian education technology startup SMARTeacher (http://www.smarteacher.ca) has figured out how to use galvanic skin response (GSR) technology to map students’ emotions. Using a GSR sensor embedded into a wristwatch like device, the company is able to consistently monitor student engagement levels while the device is worn. They use emotional input in tandem with advanced artificial intelligence algorithms to learn how a student learns, building a personalized learning path for each child.
More importantly, the game is able to create a positive, engaging experience that increases a child’s confidence and presents math as a fun, enjoyable activity. “What makes Prodigy the perfect learning tool is the fact that kids want to play it on their own time,” says Nicole Robinson, a certified junior/intermediate math teacher and SMARTeacher employee. The Pokemon-style role-playing game called Prodigy, is based on the Ontario math curriculum for grades 1-5 and the common core state standards (CCSS) for grades 1-3.
Emotion Based Teaching
During two, four-week pilot studies at private schools children answered an average of 150 questions per week, with children who really enjoyed the game answering over 1000 questions per week. The majority of those questions were answered during recess, before/after school, or at home. There was an average improvement of over 15% for each of the tested six mathematical skills, all of which are aligned with the Ontario curriculum. More importantly, there was an increase of 23% in students who said they liked or loved math after Prodigy was introduced, demonstrating that the game works to also build their confidence and improve their attitudes towards math.
Understanding how students are feeling while completing homework or self-learning exercises could give teachers the inside scoop they need to more effectively individualize their instruction in the classroom. Will this be the newest technology to sweep the nation and transform education?