June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering
26.76.1 - 26.76.18
A Nod in the Right Direction? Designing a Study to Assess an Instructor’s Ability to Interpret Student Comprehension from Nonverbal Communication In the classroom environment, communication between instructor and student isfoundational to the learning process. While verbal messages are not always present duringclassroom communication, nonverbal messages are. Understanding factors which improve aninstructor’s ability to interpret student body language will help future generations of educatorsmore effectively asses their classroom environment and engage students. This paper focuses on the nonverbal portion of communication occurring withinclassrooms, specifically the nonverbal messages sent by students and received by the instructor.It also describes the completed performance of a pilot study to answer the research question ofwhether pedagogical experience influences an instructor’s ability to assess studentcomprehension based strictly on nonverbal communication. The extensive literature review forthis paper highlights nonverbal communication research methods across a wide variety ofdisciplines. The primary instrument utilized in this experiment is a series of 20 short video-only clipsshowing freshman college students providing written responses to a set of math questions. Thevideo is muted to present only nonverbal behavior, and is framed to display the student’s facialexpression and upper torso body position. A sample population of instructors were shown thesevideo clips and asked to assess the students’ comprehension based on nonverbal behavior.Secondary instruments were developed to: collect the participant’s assessment of studentconfidence, collect the participant’s confidence in their assessment of each student, collectspecific nonverbal behaviors identified by the participant in determining student confidence, andto collect demographic and pedagogical experience information, as well as specific priornonverbal communication training background. This paper details the pilot study’smethodology, draws conclusions based on the findings, and provides further recommendationsfor use in a full study. The pilot program discussed in this paper will be used to inform the performance of amore extensive research study. Ultimately, the full experiment’s results, recommendations, andsubsequent discussion will advance the body of knowledge needed to equip current and futureinstructors with the nonverbal communication training and skills, to supplement their ability toquickly and accurately assess students in their classroom. The pilot study discussed herein and planned full study have been designed toapproximately replicate a previous study performed using K-12 teachers as the participants. Noknown prior attempts to generalize the study to a population of college-level instructors havebeen made.
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