Idea for constant/automated faculty feedback wins 2017 Open Innovation Challenge

Idea for constant/automated faculty feedback wins 2017 Open Innovation Challenge

Scott Yabiku, professor of sociology and demography in the College of the Liberal Arts, wants a way for faculty to get instant feedback on the effectiveness of their teaching — which, he said, never happens today. 

“After each class, wouldn't it be great to have some sort of automated assessment of where in a lecture students disengaged, where they were paying attention, and how that matched up to the content and what I was saying in the lecture?” Yabiku asked.

His idea to achieve that would combine artificial intelligence and computer emotion detection to give a faculty member feedback on how students respond to a lecture and whether they are engaged at certain points in the class. 

“I get feedback on my job all the time. I submit articles to journals, I get reviews. I submit proposals to funders, I get reviews. I do presentations at meetings, I get comments,” he said. “But when I'm teaching, a lot of that feedback loop stops.” Yabiku said teaching feedback mostly comes at the end of the semester via student evaluations, when it is too late to adapt his teaching to reach those students.

As the winner of the third annual 2017 Open Innovation Challenge at the Penn State Symposium for Teaching and Learning with Technology, Yabiku now has the opportunity to make his idea a reality. Yabiku's “Improve Your Teaching Every Day” idea was one of 30 innovative ideas to enhance teaching and learning in higher education submitted for the challenge. The five finalists each gave a five-minute presentation to showcase their idea at the symposium on March 18, and attendees voted for the idea they would like to see move forward.

Yabiku will now work with a team of educational technology experts to explore and develop his idea further. He is optimistic, saying that while technology might not be there yet to make his idea work, it very well could in the near future. “In the best case scenario, it could work,” Yabiku said. “Or, maybe it's an idea for a few years from now, when we have better artificial intelligence and computer emotion detection. So if something doesn't work now, you just need to wait a year or two when the technology is better.”

The other four challenge finalists and their ideas are: 

  • Ashu Kumar, instructor, information sciences and technology, program coordinator of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ENTI) minor, Penn State Beaver; “Voice Enabled Classroom Assistant”
  • Sherry Robinson, associate professor of business, Penn State Hazleton; “Game App for Review with Risk-based Scoring”
  • Nicholas Rowland, associate professor of sociology, environmental studies, and science and technology studies, Penn State Altoona; “Supporting Engaged Scholarship with Technology”
  • Lindsey Simon-Jones, associate professor of English, Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus; “Explore Your World: The Penn State Virtual Exploration Lab”

For more information on the Open Innovation Challenge, visit

Article posted from Penn State News

Idea for constant/automated faculty feedback wins 2017 Open Innovation Challenge