Educational Infographics Using Gestural Hand Interactions

(2017) My capstone project for my undergraduate degree in New Media at The University of Maine.

This project was a two semester long endeavor in which I spent time researching learning habits and teaching techniques, conceptualizing an engaging lesson, designing and creating that lesson, deploying it in a classroom, and documenting the results. The goal of the project was to test if learner engagement and information retention increase when multiple different modes of learning are integrated into one lesson. Because so many students learn better in a more “hands-on” environment, my hypothesis was that a video lesson which requires physical engagement would increase the potential for education. Ideally, appealing to visual, audio, and kinesthetic learners would make lessons more suitable to all kinds of students.

I deployed this project in a 5th grade classroom with a pool of 38 students. I split the group evenly into two groups (I had the help of their teacher who made sure the groups were of equal academic ability). Group 1 used my lesson, and Group 2 learned the same material through a traditional worksheet (I created the worksheet, but the teacher edited it down to make sure it was at a 5th grade reading level). Both groups learned the same material, and took the same assessment. According to my hypothesis, Group 1 should have had higher scores. However, both groups scored an average of 66% on the quiz. Group 1 scored exactly .001% better than Group 2, and by that result, I was unable to confidently proclaim that my lesson increased retention of information. Regardless, since all of the students did get a chance to test my lesson, I can at least assert that there was an increased enthusiasm for learning (compared to the enthusiasm for the worksheet). The only criticism I got from the students was that there weren’t enough explosions for their taste.

This project runs on Processing (Java) and uses a Microsoft Kinect to trace hand movements. Coding was done in collaboration with Oliver Adams.