On 3 October 2011, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) announced that the Affective Computing group of the Ateneo de Manila University, now known as the Ateneo Laboratory for the Learning Sciences (ALLS) garnered the National Capital Region’s (NCR) Winning Entry for the 2010 CHED Best Higher Education Institution Research Program (BHEIRP) competition.
The CHED BHEIRP is a bi-annual research competition. It was conceptualized to recognize both the Program Implementer and the HEI for research programs that have contributed significantly to the generation of new knowledge and advancement of disciplines to support national development. The criteria in the evaluation of entries were based on development impact, contribution to the discipline and novelty or originality. Three (3) entries in the NCR qualified to participate in the regional level. The regional winning entry qualifies to compete at the national level.
On 5 December 2011, a research symposium and awarding ceremony was held at the CHED Auditorium in Diliman, Quezon City. Dr. Catherine Castañeda, CHED-NCR Director, welcomed administrators, faculty, and guests from different colleges and universities in the region. She also provided an overview of the BHERP selection process.
Dr. Ma. Mercedes Rodrigo, ALLS Project Leader, presented an introduction to the research work in “Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction”. The presentation was followed by an Open Forum, where guests asked questions and expressed interest in the research program.
CHED Commissioner, Dr. William Medrano, assisted by Dr. Castañeda and Dr. Winefreda Asor, presented the awards. Two other qualified research entries were awarded with plaques: “International Migration and Development in the Philippines” from the University of Santo Tomas and “Development and Institutionalization of a Community Based Monitoring System” from De La Salle University, Manila.
Dr. Rodrigo, accompanied by representatives of the Ateneo de Manila University, received the Winning Entry award. Adding to this proud moment, Dr. Castañeda provided a surprise announcement: the Affective Computing group was receiving a second award for garnering Second Place at the national level of the competition.
ALLS and Dr. Rodrigo would like to thank the Commission on Higher Education for the recognition, as well as the Ateneo de Manila University and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for continuously supporting their research endeavors in affective computing.
Abstract of the Winning Entry
Affective computing is a multidisciplinary field that “relates to, arises from or deliberately influences emotion” (Picard, 1997). It is concerned with the development of computer-based systems that can detect, express, and intelligently respond to human feelings, emotions, moods, and motivations. Although affective computing can be applied to all computer-based applications, the Affective Computing program of the Ateneo de Manila focuses its efforts on education. We are concerned with the automatic detection of and response to student emotion and behavior while using computer-based learning environments. With support from the Department of Science and Technology, we have conducted experiments with learners using intelligent tutors, educational games and simulations, and integrated programming environments. Using data mining and statistical methods, the group arrived at computationally tractable models of confusion, boredom, and frustration. These models provide ways of inferring student emotional states based on counts, measures, and quantities. The group studied affective dynamics (defined as the natural transitions among affective states), the incidence and persistence of student affective states, and the relationship between these states and constructs such as student achievement, carelessness, and student abuse of learning systems. We have compared these findings to findings from similar studies conducted by our collaborators at other universities and have found them to be consistent. The group has also tested designs for computer-based agents that provide both content help and emotional support for learners. In the future, we hope to refine these models, integrate them into computer-based learning environments and test them in the field. Ultimately, our goal is to increase the level of support available to students, increasing their engagement with educational systems and increasing their achievement.