Much of psychology education deals with the challenge of how to effectively teach and evaluate skills professionals need in certain interactions. For example, think about conversational skills psychologists need in interactions such as a parent-child interaction, group discussion, or an individual counseling meeting. In these cases, the feedback given by the expert to the student is of crucial importance. However, having a teacher sit in on the interaction might have an unwanted effect on the situation at hand. What can we do to improve the learning experience of the student and make the process run as smoothly as possible for the teacher?
In puberty, both boys and girls have to make choices about what to do, what to wear, how to act, who to date, etcetera, etcetera. The really important stuff, you know. In those years (12-18) things are changing, nobody can deny that. A big thing in adolescence is school. In many countries around the world, adolescents go to school at least until they are 16 years of age. Therefore, many researchers focus on classroom interaction. A lot goes on in and around the school and many decisions are made in groups. Group pressure is something that is all around us, but during puberty teenagers find it difficult to ignore the influence of their peers when making decisions. To study these group interactions in schools, researchers place cameras in classrooms to record interactions on video. They code behaviors on handheld devices, interview teachers, and conduct student surveys. Observing a general school population allows psychologists to gain insight into specific group dynamics and the effectiveness of age-based intervention programs.
Knowledge is the key to developing a better understanding of autism.
Researchers often observe and code behavior in combination with other research methods such as questionnaires or parental interviews to be able to understand, recognize, and explain specific behaviors that are linked to autism.
Topics: The Observer XT, T-patterns, Theme, FaceReader, facial expression analysis, infant behavior, Educational research, classroom observation software, coding schemes, autism research, parent-child interaction, behavioral patterns, repetitive behavior
Computerized learning tools have already become a standard educational tool in many institutions. The break-through point was when many leading universities joined up on common platforms and offered so-called massive open online course (MOOC) such as https://www.coursera.org/universities. The courses - open for everyone - have thousands of participants. In e-learning courses, participants receive the semi-individualized feedback only thanks to the sophisticated computer algorithms. The algorithms employ the patterns of characteristics of correct and incorrect answers. Additionally, keyboard- and mouse- movements are measured to provide feedback. This entire instantaneous assessment relies on the logical and rational input while unintentionally omitting the affective and emotional factors. However, computer scientists and psychologists have recently developed tools to automatically assess and analyze patterns of emotions in the participants of the computerized courses. A computer – equipped with a standard webcam - may analyze in-real time an emotional state of the participant who is taking an online course. Research proves that such automated affective assessment improves learning outcomes due to the enriched feedback it can provide.
The scientists from University of Macedonia, Greece  found that empathetic and emotional feedback facilitates computerized learning and assessment (e-learning). A presence of digital avatar that responds to a student’s emotional state increases the perceived: usefulness, ease of use and playfulness of the studied material. The researchers used FaceReader  - software that automatically recognize facial expressions of emotions - to prove that instantaneously assessing participants’ emotions helps in the learning process. In the experiment, the digital female avatar showed corresponding empathetic feedback, only if FaceReader and the independent human judges agreed with each other. If they both agreed that participant looked “sad” then the female digital avatar showed sad face –empathizing with the student– and then she smiled and said encouragingly “cheer up, continue trying and you will succeed.” Students that learnt the material with empathetic and emotional avatar perceived the material as more easy to learn, enjoyable and useful than the control group.
The coding scheme or ethogram determines what data you collect and is, thus, an essential part of your behavioral study. How to develop a coding scheme that will provide you with the information you need? You can set up your coding scheme on paper, but you can also use The Observer XT software, a tool which can assist you in the entire workflow of an observational research project.
Topics: The Observer XT, animal behavior research, on-site research, video observation, Educational research, classroom observation software, coding schemes, Observation lab, human behavior research, consumer behavior, mobile observation, Portable lab
Classroom behavior is often difficult to follow as researchers simply don’t have enough eyes and ears to catch everything that happens. But if this data can be accurately collected, it can reveal a wealth of information such as the effectiveness of special education programs or engagement of students with behavioral problems. Recommendations based on educational research provide policy makers, teachers, parents, and students with valuable information. For this reason it is extremely important that we study social interaction in educational contexts and record behavior within classrooms. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
How to collect and code observational data in educational research
The authors of the Associate Editor's Column in the Journal of Special Education Technology, Dave Edyburn and James Basham, recognize the ongoing interest in observational data collection systems. As a result, they have highlighted four software products as forerunners in this field. Edyburn and Basham explain that it has always been a challenge to collect data in a classroom, and claim that simple recording systems are necessary so that researchers do not miss any new developments. Please read the column to learn more about collecting and coding observational data.