CIRES Special Seminar
Are they engaged? The use of skin biosensors to monitor participant attention in formal and informal learning settings
by Dr. Karen McNeal
Abstract: Practitioners often understand that in order to impact a learner, one must have the attention of the target audience. However, getting the audiences' attention and keeping it can often be a challenge. Even more challenging is being able to assess whether the implemented activity is actually keeping the audience engaged? Such teaching and learning challenges have been the focus of many current educational studies and teaching approaches. This study employs the use of skin biosensors in a variety of teaching and learning environments from college classrooms, to museum environments, to public concerts and lectures to understand how people engage with various activities focused about the geosciences and/or global change. In a series of interventions, we used skin biosensors combined with pre-post surveys, interviews, direct observations, and eye-tracking approaches to understand how a range of audiences' engaged with a variety of interventions. The suite of exploratory studies aims to inform how biosensors may be integrated with traditional educational research approaches in order to inform practitioners about their teaching and learning strategies.
Bio: Dr. Karen McNeal is Associate Professor in Geosciences at Auburn University. She is the first discipline based education researcher at Auburn (of many more to come) in the College of Science and Mathematics. She previously held Associate Professor positions at Mississippi State University and North Carolina State University. Her research focuses on geoscience education and geocognition research including those related to complex earth systems and global change. Her work includes the design and evaluation of a variety of interventions and assessment through measuring understanding, perceptions and engagement of informal and formal audiences. She employs both qualitative and quantitative research approaches, including the application of eye-tracking and skin biosensors methods.