Affective States and State Tests: Investigating How Affect Throughout the School Year Predicts End of Year Learning Outcomes


In this paper, we investigate the correspondence between student affect in a web-based tutoring platform throughout the school year and learning outcomes at the end of the year, on a high-stakes mathematics exam. The relationships between affect and learning outcomes have been previously studied, but not in a manner that is both longitudinal and finer-grained. Affect detectors are used to estimate student affective states based on post-hoc analysis of tutor log-data. For every student action in the tutor the detectors give us an estimated probability that the student is in a state of boredom, engaged concentration, confusion, and frustration, and estimates of the probability that they are exhibiting off-task or gaming behaviors. We ran the detectors on two years of log-data from 8th grade student use of the ASSISTments math tutoring system and collected corresponding end of year, high stakes, state math test scores for the 1,393 students in our cohort. By correlating these data sources, we find that boredom during problem solving is negatively correlated with performance, as expected; however, boredom is positively correlated with performance when exhibited during scaffolded tutoring. A similar pattern is unexpectedly seen for confusion. Engaged concentration and frustration are both associated with positive learning outcomes, surprisingly in the case of frustration.

Predicting STEM Career Choice... presentation at the Third Conference on Learning Analytics and Knowledge, Leuven, Belgium, April 2013.


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Conference proceeding
Z. Pardos
R. Baker
M. San Pedro
S. Gowda
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Youth Motivation and Interests in STEM
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Computer Science - general