PREDICTING INTEREST WHILE READING WITH WII FIT BALANCE BOARDS
Interest, being a complex and subjective construct, is difficult to measure. Therefore, it is beneficial to use both direct and indirect measures of interest. The use of gross body movements has been demonstrated to be an informative indirect measure of interest in previous research studies (D’Mello, Chipman, & Graesser, 2007a; Kapoor, Mota, & Picard, 2001; Mota & Picard, 2003). The rationale behind the use of body movements in measuring interest is based on embodied theories of cognition that state that there is a connection between bodily movements and psychological states, such as interest (deVega, Glenberg, & Graesser, 2008). Certain body postures or gross bodily movements have been found to be associated with interest during learning: learners who are interested have been found to lean forward and learners who are bored have been found to lean back (Kapoor et al., 2001). In addition, interest has been negatively associated with the magnitude of gross bodily movements; in other words, learners who are interested and engaged move less than those who are not interested (D’Mello, Picard, & Graesser, 2007b; D’Mello et al., 2007a; Mota & Picard, 2003). Therefore, it is hypothesized that interest will be negatively associated with both leaning back and fidgeting while reading. However, the apparatus used in these research studies is too expensive (about $10,000) for use in most research studies.
The purpose of this study was to determine the usefulness of Wii Fit™ boards (about $200) as a cost-effective means of incorporating gross body movements as an indirect measure of interest. Gross body movement data from forty-two university students (28 female, 14 male; age M = 20.88 years; SD = 7.08 years) were measured while the participants read two science texts. Participants completed a pre-reading self-report of their topic interest for each text (Schiefele, 1992). After completing the pre-reading questionnaire, participants read the text at their own pace one sentence at a time on a computer screen. After reading each text, the participants completed a self-report questionnaire, which asked them asking the participants to provide a retrospective account of their text-based interest (i.e., interest in the text as a whole; Hidi & Baird, 1986). After rating the text’s interest, the participants were asked to produce a written recall and completed a post-test to assess their learning. The findings indicated that topic interest, text-based interest, and post-test scores were both negatively associated with moving in one's seat (r = -.30, p < .01; r = -.34, p < .01; r = -.23, p < .05, respectively). Moreover, text-based interest and recall were negatively associated with leaning back in one's seat (r = -.30, p < .01; r = -.25, p < .05, respectively). Although these the findings have only small to medium effects, the size of the effects are consistent with what is typically reported in studies that explore links between self-reports and bodily measures of affective constructs such as interest and boredom (Barrett, 2006; Camras & Shutter, 2010; Ruch, 1995; Russell, Bachorowski, & Fernandez-Dols, 2003). Importantly, they are significant and converge with previous findings on body movement and interest (e.g., D’Mello et al., 2007a, Mota & Picard, 2003). Therefore, the use of Wii Fit™ boards is promising for use in future research studies as an economical means to assess gross body movements as an indirect measure of interest.