Employing virtual lecturers’ Facial expressions in virtual educational environments.
This research began with a preliminary exploratory study that observed the relationship between the facial expressions of three human lecturers in a real academic lecture theatre and the reactions of the students to those expressions. Results informed the design of the first experiment that aimed to investigate the effectiveness of a virtual lecturer’s expressions on the students’ learning outcomes in a virtual pedagogical environment. A second follow-up experiment then focussed on the effectiveness of a single facial expression (the smile) on student performance. Both experiments involved virtual lectures, with virtual lecturers teaching real students. Results indicated that students performed better (by 86%) in the lectures where the virtual lecturer performed facial expressions compared to the results of the lectures that did not use facial expressions. However, this applied only for reasonably complex instructional material; when simple or basic instructional material was used the facial expressions of the virtual lecturer had no substantial effect on the students’ learning outcome. Finally, it was demonstrated that the appropriate use of smiling increased the interest of the students and consequently their performance.
Citation : Theonas, G., Hobbs, D. and Rigas, D. (2008) Employing Virtual Lecturers’ Facial Expressions in Virtual Educational Environments. International Journal of Virtual Reality, 7 (1) pp 31-44
ISSN : 1433-3015