Embodied Instruction Research at University of California, Santa Barbara

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Andrew Stull, Associate Project Scientist at University of California, Santa Barbara, joined the podcast to talk about their team’s embodied instruction research, if there could be such a thing as too charismatic of an instructor, and how this research should influence our pedagogy.

You can use new media, but don't forego effective methods for constructing a lesson, for connecting with your students. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect Evu podcast network. I'm Eric Olston with Helix Education and we're here today with Dr Andrew Still, Associate Project scientist at University of California Santa Barbara and be. Welcome to the show. It's good to be here. Really excited to have you and talk with you today about your team's embodied instruction research and how it might inform our pedagogy. Before we dig in, can you get the listeners a little bit of background on both UCS be and your role there? Well, you see, Santa Barbara is a top Tier Research University, but our program has a strong and dedicated emphasis to education, educational design, technology design to promote meaningful learning. So that's what our team is constant traded on. It's what's the best way to support student learning and instructional development to support meaningful are mostly be work in the stem, which is science, technology, engineering and math domains, but it's relevant to any topic that's being taught. It's a great mission. You're asking great questions and I'm excited to see if you and your team have any starts to answers for us to consider as worth thinking about online instruction. A lot of us fair for the very first time in a serious manner this year, and he deck to kick US off today. Can you give us just a high level overview on the concept of embodied instruction? Simply put, it's the idea that the instructor is part of the instructional message. The instructors social cues, personality presence is part of the lesson. It's not just the words and the pictures that might be displayed on a screen or written on a board, but it's what the instructor does, the high contact that they might gain from the students in order to support a social connection, to develop social rapport or how they might reference point gesture in order to guide students to move through the lesson material. Is this? The simple thing is like, how is the Instru structor a guide to attending...

...to the relevant material at the right time? Sometimes they talked about it as a dance. Is How the instructors able to guide the students attention at the right time to the right place in order to make the point that's intended to be made? Of through my time that's pretty much an a pretty a pretty global, high level view of what embodied instruction is. It's a super helpful one and it begs a lot of followup questions in terms of you know, how much physicality is required for an instructor to guide their students are learning. So, based on your research, how important would you say it is for a student to be able to see their professor during online instruction? You know, I hesitate to say that instructor must be seen, but an instructor must be personally present. There must be some attempt by the instructor to create a social relationship, to make aware that the student is present in that conversation. So you see con Academy of Videos that in the speakers, in the instructors in those videos are, I would say, very socially present, although you never see much more than a cursor moving through the screen. Yeah, so, I mean the search that I've done really is about when the instructor is physically present, visibly present, but it I mean being social, making a connecting with the student. Does it necessary? Would say, doesn't necessarily require. I mean, there's still some ongoing research to look at this that's needed, but my gut is telling me that an instructor that is reaching to a student and attempting to create rapport is performing much of that task and create our offering opportunity for the student to connect in to support rapport and to motivate the student to engage with lesson as being presented with the words, with the concepts, with the process or the sequence or the animation or the piece of art. The old concept is the instructor as a guide. Yes, the specific aspect of my research is about how the instructors gaze, to look at someone, and you could be in a conversation, and good conversations when to speakers look back and forth, they they look into another person's eyes in order to establish that point, to to connect, to initiate that that connection. But then sometimes you'll be in a conversation and sometimes this person you're speaking to look away and suddenly you do this automatically away thing. And some of that is that we are tuned to attend to both the social gays that someone has looking...

...back and forth. It's I think it's called direct gays in the literature, but that's just called Social Gad and the gays that a speakers use this in order to look at something else in the environment, which gays guidance, and we're tuned to follow someone else's gays because there might be something important out there that we want to attend to as well. So those are two examples of things that I've been studying in how the instructor guides the attention of the student either towards themselves to give them new information or towards something else in the environment to support an explanation, to give them new information, to to guide them towards some visual piece of knowledge that is needed. When you're trying to measure engagements, how do you separate ones learning preference from their actual academic improvement? For instance, kind of students self reported scores about which modality they believe engages them better actually be misleading to which truly did yeah, there is it and has been. I think it's settled now. There's been a debate between style versus preference, and I think the most of strong part of the literature supports the fact that you have a learning preference and that you might and you might think that that is how you prefer to learn, that that doesn't preclude you from learning and other modalities. Much of what I look at is multi modalities, multimedia in that it's the words that we speak, the pictures we show, the works that we write, animations and the experience of the instructor as the social modality to support an anchor and glue those things together. Does it answer your question? Yeah, yeah, now it's helpful, I guess. I'm I'm trying to figure out as your as UN your team were comparing different modalities, what were the metrics that you are using to come back with takeaways in terms of which modalities created that higher levels of engagement? Was Engagement academic improvement? Yes, so the framework is in an idea of an embodied cognition to include of the idea is there's a social component that we gaged through surveys, through a sense of feeling engage with lesson with the material, with the instructor and the intention or the prediction that that student might use those different things into the future. How well were they connect with it as a sense of their motivation and there says sense of their engage him. But we measured learning through an actual practical set of questions after giving them a lesson. So the...

...ideas will give you a lesson on the topic and we study again topics and stem and then will, after the lecture that we deliver in different formats, will test whether you're able to both recall information that was given to you directly or be able to use information to reason about something that we may not have directly taught you. And that's a difference between a recall and a transfer. Transfers the idea that we want you to use something in a productive way that you might not have been directly instructed on. Now that's not always easy to test, but it is always a goal for us to to try to test it. So what we're doing is we're using a objective questions that we ask in order to get a sense of how well the students did learn. Now what I haven't said is is the component of attention we use eye tracking, and this is the idea that we have a computer display in a system that, once calibrated, will look and calculate what the student is looking at on the screen. So we'll make a display presentation and the system that calculates to look at and to mark off this time and the location on the screen where the student is looking. That gives us a sense of what they're attending to. Much of the research that that in the paper that we're talking about, the art journal Article That just published was about how the instructors face, and I gaze and body position influence where the students direct their attention. The ideas that with an instructor properly synchronized, that experience. Look at me when I want you to not be distracted by everything else in the room or on board, because I'm going to give you something new and then look at this new thing that I'm presenting to you, because I want you to look at that and to Parse and integrate it as I describe it to you. But I don't want you to look at me because I'm looking at me. The instructors of no value when you're supposed to be looking at the board. Yeah, it's it's so it almost becomes a situation where the instructor needs know how to get out of the way, know how to move the student to this location at the right time as some new piece of information is being revealed or described, and then pull them back to the instructor in order to like prepare them for something new. So again, I think and made the analogy of a dance. So instructors almost like this guide in this dance, this choreographer,...

...moving the students, the students attention, through the process of a lesson in the right way, at the right time in order for students to gain the most from that experience. So, in an at short course, that's what my study has been about. Yeah, and and I know that you're probably in a lot of our listeners heads right now, because I know a lot of our academic listeners are not only extraordinarily proficient instructures but very striking, beautiful, charismatic people themselves, and they're probably boy, am I distraction? Does your research suggest that there could be such a thing as to charismatic and instructor so engaging that they actually distract? This is this is an old question. It's like cliar back to high schools and whether your teachers to attractive. I would say that again, a good teacher, whether they are stunningly attractive or normal and average person, can do the same thing in that gaining attention to support, rapport and motivation and then using that as a vehicle to direct attention as necessary to move it into places in the lesson, often away from the instructor. I don't think the natural beauty or charisma of an instructor is a bad thing or is a hampering thing. Now, one of the things I did in my study was we looked at the possible distraction of the instructor's face and the idea is that some from this study. Now we will talk about the whole nature of the studies in a bit, but of this study we found that the instructor's face was a distraction when it was visible. More we believe that it was a distraction in that let me set up the study. So we compared a video lecture on a traditional whiteboard where the student where the student be, where the instructor looks to the camera to describe something and then turns to the board to write or draw some relevant piece of information, then turned back, turns back to the camera that this was contrasted with a transparent white board, and that is the instructor is writing on a sheet of glass and the camera simply reverses the image. So it looks like they know how to write backwards, which is always amazing for some people. In fact, they're not writing backwards, the camera just reverses the image. Yeah, but the idea is that the instructors always visibly presented to the camera or the viewer, and in that situation we found that student spent much more time looking at the instructor then at the lesson. Okay, and I think that would happen whether there was tremendous charisma from the instructor or none at all. Yeah,...

...because we're wired to attend to people's faces, we are wired to drop being drawn to their eyes, and so it appears to be beneficial in that situation to turn away from the audience to look at the board, because at that point you're both making your removing the faces, this element of distraction, but you're actually shifting your body to create this embodied directness, like no, look over here at the board. That point you're synchronizing them to redirect their attention and removing the distraction of the instructor's face and we found that in the study that students who received the lecture where the students with the instructor turned away from the student performed better when the face was no longer available, and we could see this in the eye tracking as well. You can see the suddenly there's all this attention one person's face, even though the instructors not looking at the camera or the which is the viewer, there's still all of this attention that's being directed to the instructor read than to the thing that they were being they were looking at. So yes, so charisma. Is it necessarily bad? It can be good in motivation, but I think it's still comes down to how these embodied queues and both direct students as well as get out of their own way. It's like step out of your way, step away from the camera. No, again, going back to an earlier question you said, I would say that, as in instructor, that through a personalization, through direct reference to the student, who acknowledge the fact that there's someone on the other side of the camera, creates a sense of ver poor creates a sense of of relationship with the audience, such that you're more encouraged to be drawn into the lesson and then to be guided through even though not present. So it's not it's the idea that you can be socially present and not visibly present to the experience. And you've been very humble about how early in the stages of learning we actually are, that we're starting to get more more studies about and Biden instruction and there's not a ton of firm hard takeaways. But based on what you and your team have found so far, are there any high level best practices that you think instructional design teams were at least do well to consider when building online classes? Yes, pacing as always important. I would say choreograph. If you're preparing the lecture, make sure that you know how it's sequenced and segment basic multimedia principles that rich mayor has been influential and developing its break things into pieces, consumable parts presented in the right order and chunks,...

...and then signal, either with an embodied signal, as you change gay sins, you change of facing direction, as you gesture point, to help kind of move students through that that lesson through the deliverable. These are always important activities and some people rush through the lectures and well, I do too. It's just natural because you're excited and you kind of want to do this, but you want to be conscious of allowing processing time, allowing students to make connections. I mean, as an instructor, you're the guide to help them make connections between constant day that you gave them and concept. To be okay, but you need to give them the time and the guidance in order to make that integration so that they can be effective in taking what you've given them, what you've presented, in what you've guided them to. And he's super helpful. Finally, any next steps? Advice for institutions? Listening to you excited about this. They're looking to leverage the latest research to improve their online instructional practice. Worst they start first worship, they look methods. So many people, I think, are wrapped up in the media. So there's this new thing, this with Bang, wonderful new thing that people are talking about. Break it down to the method is you can use new media, but don't forego effective methods for constructing a lesson, for connecting with your students. In the heart of good teaching is about the methods that you employ in order to support that lesson and just adding a computer or adding a Whiz Bang new type of white board, blast board or something like that isn't necessarily effective without conscious, thoughtful methods to employ them based on the problems that you're trying to address in the classroom for the students that you're working with. Andy, thank you so much for your time today. I know you wanted to give some of your fellow research colleagues a shout out, and then what's the best place for listeners to connect with you and your team if they have any follow up questions? Sure to product just wonderful colleagues that participate in this. RESEARCHER BE LOGAN BE ARELA at the University of Georgia, and he's a young research or dynamic, wonderful, wonderful, creative researcher, and then rich mayor, who was both our mentors, which is also at the University of California Santa Barbara, and I I also would be remiss to not mention that this fun this research was funded through the National Science Foundation and the and the Spencer Foundation. I can always be reached if you have questions and I love I love to hear from people. You can send me an email at a stall as...

...stult you see, SB DOT Edu, and I look forward to hearing from anybody who wants to learn a little bit more or to ask questions. To thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about this research. Awesome. Thank you so much for joining us today. Edie. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show on Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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