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Investigating Multi-Modal Measures for Cognitive Load Detection in E-Learning

Nico Herbig; Tim Düwel; Mossad Helali; Lea Eckhart; Patrick Schuck; Subhabrata Choudhury; Antonio Krüger
In: Proceedings of the 28th ACM Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization. International Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation, and Personalization (UMAP-2020), July 12-18, Genoa, Italy, Pages 88-97, ISBN 9781450368612, Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 7/2020.


In this paper, we analyze a wide range of physiological, behavioral, performance, and subjective measures to estimate cognitive load (CL) during e-learning. To the best of our knowledge, the analyzed sensor measures comprise the most diverse set of features from a variety of modalities that have to date been investigated in the e-learning domain. Our focus lies on predicting the subjectively reported CL and difficulty as well as intrinsic content difficulty based on the explored features. A study with 21 participants, who learned through videos and quizzes in a Moodle environment, shows that classifying intrinsic content difficulty works better for quizzes than for videos, where participants actively solve problems instead of passively consuming videos. Regression analysis for predicting the subjectively reported level of CL and difficulty also works with very low error within content topics. Among the explored feature modalities, eye-based features yield the best results, followed by heart-based and then skin-based measures. Furthermore, combining multiple modalities results in better performance compared to using a single modality. The presented results can guide researchers and developers of cognition-aware e-learning environments by suggesting modalities and features that work particularly well for estimating difficulty and CL.


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