Results of a new study led by CSE alumnus Jacob Whitehill (Ph.D., '12) demonstrates that a real-time, automatic method for identifying and analyzing facial expressions can perform with an accuracy comparable to that of human observers when tracking how engaged students are in the classroom. (Pictured at left: Student engagement levels are tracked in real time by the automatic system for recognizing facial expressions; photo copyright 2014 IEEE.) The study also revealed that engagement levels were a better predictor of students' post-test performance that the students' pre-test scores.
Whitehill is the first author on the paper "The Faces of Engagement: Automatic Recognition of Student Engagement," which was published April 15 in the early online edition of the journal IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing. Whitehill -- who now works at Emotient, Inc., a startup he co-founded with the paper's senior author, Javier Movellan -- did much of his work on the study while part of the Machine Perception Laboratory in Calit2's Qualcomm Institute (co-directed by Movellan). The project was funded, in part, by the UCSD-based Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center (TDLC), led by CSE Prof. Gary Cottrell. TDLC also enabled the key partnership between Movellan and another co-author on the paper, Virginia Commonwealth professor of developmental psychology Zewelanji Serpell, because both are PIs on TDLC's Social Interaction Network. In addition to Movellan, Whitehill and Serpell, the study’s co-authors include Yi-Ching Lin and Aysha Foster from the department of psychology at Virginia State.
“Automatic recognition of student engagement could revolutionize education by increasing understanding of when and why students get disengaged,” said Whitehill (pictured below right). “Automatic engagement detection provides an opportunity for educators to adjust their curriculum for higher impact, either in real time or in subsequent lessons. Automatic engagement detection could be a valuable asset for developing adaptive educational games, improving intelligent tutoring systems and tailoring massive open online courses, or MOOCs.”
The study consisted of training an automatic detector, which measures how engaged a student appears in a webcam video while undergoing cognitive skills training on an iPad®. The study used automatic expression recognition technology to analyze students’ facial expressions on a frame-by-frame basis and estimate their engagement level. “This study is one of the most thorough to date in the application of computer vision and machine learning technologies for automatic student engagement detection,” said Javier Movellan. “The possibilities for its application in education and beyond are tremendous. By understanding what parts of a lecture, conversation, game, advertisement or promotion produced different levels of engagement, an individual or business can obtain valuable feedback to fine-tune the material to something more impactful.”
For anyone who missed the recent Big Data at Work Symposium in March, now you can watch it on-demand. Two of the four speakers are CSE faculty members: Prof. Stefan Savage and Prof. Larry Smarr. Savage was the security expert on the panel, warning that there are substantial security risks when data becomes Big Data, but he also expanded on the potential opportunities inherent in the growth of Big Data (including for CSE graduates who specialize in cybersecurity!). For his part, Smarr – who directs Calit2 as well – addressed the overall impact of Big Data, especially in health care sector, as millions of Americans join the ranks of the 'quantitative health' movement (like Smarr himself) generating petabytes of data to help the patient and his or her doctor manage the patient's health on a 24/7 basis. The event continues to receive rave reviews, and now there are two ways to watch the one-hour program: it's available immediately on UCTV's website. Alternatively, it will begin airing during the week of April 21 on the UCTV channel itself (with the first primetime showing planned for 9pm April 24). Set your DVR, or watch the complete edited video online at the link below.
In its April 14 edition, the UTSanDiego featured an article about "Scientists set to roam the world" this summer. "If you toss a dart at a map of the world, there's a good chance it'll land in a region where scientists from San Diego County will do research this summer," wrote science editor Gary Robbins, adding that "summer field research is a cherished part of science." Case in point: the first researcher featured in the article was CSE Prof. Ryan Kastner, who is photographed (at right) displaying an underwater stereo camera system that he developed for producing 3D reconstructions of underwater objects. Kastner "will use high-resolution imaging tools in June to help archaeologists map Mayan ruins in Guatemala and a sunken ship in Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay Underwater Park," according to the article. Kastner will be joined on the Lake Tahoe expedition by undergraduate participants in the Engineers for Exploration program, which is co-directed by Kastner.
CSE Prof. Yuanyuan (YY) Zhou (at left) took time out to attend the first-ever Celebration of Women in Computing in Southern California April 5-6 in Carlsbad. And according to a profile in the UCSD Guardian by Raquel Calderon, Zhou spent Saturday afternoon "standing before an audience full of young, aspiring female engineers to share her experiences.""With a doctorate in computer science from Princeton, three startups and volumes of research to her name, Zhou is intimidating in description but humble and talkative in person," wrote Calderon. "Her relentless energy serves her research, her company, her students and her desire to increse the pesence of women in computing."Explaining why she likes to teach and coach students in computer science, Zhou is quoted as saying, "I like how in a 30-minute conversation, you can really help them: you can change their career."“A really interesting observation I made is that many of the event organizers are women,” added Zhou, whose latest venture, Whova, a mobile app for attendees at professional conferences. “Especially in a startup [where] the most important thing is for you to understand your customer... you truly need to listen to the user.”According to the Guardian, "Zhou’s participation in CWIC-SoCal shows her belief in the power of community. She, like many well-established women in her field, believes technology and science need more women."