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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access December 13, 2019

Measuring emotions during learning: lack of coherence between automated facial emotion recognition and emotional experience

  • Franziska Hirt EMAIL logo , Egon Werlen , Ivan Moser and Per Bergamin
From the journal Open Computer Science


Measuring emotions non-intrusively via affective computing provides a promising source of information for adaptive learning and intelligent tutoring systems. Using non-intrusive, simultaneous measures of emotions, such systems could steadily adapt to students emotional states. One drawback, however, is the lack of evidence on how such modern measures of emotions relate to traditional self-reports. The aim of this study was to compare a prominent area of affective computing, facial emotion recognition, to students’ self-reports of interest, boredom, and valence. We analyzed different types of aggregation of the simultaneous facial emotion recognition estimates and compared them to self-reports after reading a text. Analyses of 103 students revealed no relationship between the aggregated facial emotion recognition estimates of the software FaceReader and self-reports. Irrespective of different types of aggregation of the facial emotion recognition estimates, neither the epistemic emotions (i.e., boredom and interest), nor the estimates of valence predicted the respective self-report measure. We conclude that assumptions on the subjective experience of emotions cannot necessarily be transferred to other emotional components, such as estimated by affective computing. We advise to wait for more comprehensive evidence on the predictive validity of facial emotion recognition for learning before relying on it in educational practice.


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Received: 2019-05-29
Accepted: 2019-09-16
Published Online: 2019-12-13

© 2019 Franziska Hirt et al., published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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