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Video-based learners’ observed attention estimates for lecture learning gain evaluation

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A significant problem in the field of higher education is maintaining learners’ attention during lectures, which is known to significantly affect their learning outcomes. Attention management is commonly associated with the individual ability of a lecturer to track and respond to the common behaviour of an auditorium; it lacks a detailed estimation of the intra-variability of individual learners’ attention during the course of the lecture. This paper suggests an objective and non-intrusive evaluation of learners’ attention against learning outcomes by introducing an observed attention estimate (OAE). The procedure uses human annotations based on visual cues with a supporting video recording/playback system and a web-based annotation system. This proposed procedure enables us to estimate the attention level of individual learners as observed by human annotators for given time intervals associated with specific concepts covered by the lecture. As part of the procedure, we use an inventory-based lecture gain evaluation and representation based on a novel learning gain matrix. This procedure allows for a detailed analysis of the lecture time flow with regard to learners’ attention. We have verified the applicability of the procedure on a small-scale case study.

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The authors would like to thank the students in the digital signal processing course at the University of Ljubljana for taking part in the study. Special thanks goes to John R. Buck and Kathleen E. Wage for giving us access to the SSCI used in this study.


This study was partially funded by Slovenian Research Agency (P2–0246 B).

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Correspondence to Urban Burnik.

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Burnik, U., Zaletelj, J. & Košir, A. Video-based learners’ observed attention estimates for lecture learning gain evaluation. Multimed Tools Appl 77, 16903–16926 (2018).

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