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Is facial recognition on campus moving from access control to the classroom?

Researcher at Guilford College uses biometrics to measure student attentiveness and comprehension in class

CampusIDNews Staff   ||   Feb 29, 2024  ||   ,

Facial recognition already unlock phones, expedites airport passage, and replaces IDs for door access, but now it’s efficacy is being testing in college classrooms.

Chafic Bou-Saba teaches information systems at Guilford College. He believes he can improve student academic performance via cameras and AI.

He and a team of students are designing a facial recognition system to evaluate if students are paying attention in class and even if they are confused or bored. All this data can be ascertained through facial expressions.

When you’re in a classroom, it’s not easy picking up on every student and understanding if they are getting the concepts. We want to track facial responses with how they are learning in class.

His aim is to improve a teacher’s ability to read the class and pivot if the lessons are not effective.

To measure whether his information systems students understand what he’s trying to teach in class, he told Guilford College News that he currently must rely on the students approaching him with questions and concerns.

“When you’re in a classroom, it’s not easy picking up on every student and understanding if they are getting the concepts,” he explains. “We want to see if there’s a way to track students' (facial) responses with how they are learning in class.”

Multiple cameras spread throughout the classroom record student facial expressions, and ultimately software could be trained to analyze this data enabling real-time feedback for the instructor.

In an Inside Higher Ed article, Bau-Saba says the system can document student behavior by taking five-to10-second videos enabling the instructor to point out issues to students that could be hampering their performance. With training, he says, the AI-powered software could also help detect how much the students are learning.

Of course, biometric systems frequently evoke privacy and surveillance concerns. In higher education, these concerns are particularly strong. For now, the project is being conducted with a group of students who have opted in to participate.

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