Affect Recognition and Support in Intelligent Tutoring Systems
Thesis DisciplineComputer Science
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Empirical research provides evidence of strong interaction between cognitive and affective processes in the human mind. Education research proposes a model of constructive learning that relates cognitive and affective processes in an evolving cycle of affective states. Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs) are capable of providing comprehensive cognitive support. Affective support in ITSs, however, is lagging behind; the in-depth exploration of cognitive and affective processes in ITSs is yet to be seen. Our research focuses on the integration of affective support in an ITS enhanced with an affective pedagogical agent. In our work we adopt the dimensional (versus categorical) view of emotions for modelling affective states of the agent and the ITSs users. In two stages we develop and evaluate an affective pedagogical agent. The affective response of the first agent version is based on the appraisal of the interaction state; this agent's affective response is displayed as affective facial expressions. The pilot study at the end of the first stage of the project confirms the viability of our approach which combines the dimensional view of emotions with the appraisal of interaction state. In the second stage of the project we develop a facial feature tracking application for real-time emotion recognition in a video-stream. Affective awareness of the second version of the agent is based on the output from the facial feature tracking application and the appraisal of the interaction state. This agent's response takes the form of affectoriented messages designed to interrupt the state of negative flow. The evaluation of the affect-aware agent against an unemotional affect-unaware agent provides positive results, thus confirming the superiority of the affect-aware agent. Although the uptake of the agent was not unanimous, the agent established and maintained good rapport with the users in a role of a caring tutor. The results of the pilot study and the final evaluation validate our choices in the design of affective interaction. In both experiments, the participants appreciated the addition of audible feedback messages, describing it as an enhancement which helped them save time and maintain their focus. Finally, we offer directions for future research on affective support which can be conducted within the framework developed in the course of this project.