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Study of engagement and its impact on embodiment in collaborative serious games (M/F)

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Français - Anglais

Date Limite Candidature : lundi 28 juin 2021

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General information

Reference : UMR5205-AUDSER-003
Date of publication : Monday, June 7, 2021
Scientific Responsible name : Audrey Serna
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 September 2021
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

Keywords : behavioral analysis, engagement, collaborative serious game, embodiment, reflexivity, learning analytics.

Scientific context of the thesis:
Serious games are often designed without a deep reflection on the impact of the modalities proposed to participants to exchange, either on the perception of others or on communication skills. The BODEGA project, funded by ASLAN labex (https://aslan.universite-lyon.fr), aims to study the influence of embodiment on participants' social behaviours and engagement in a collaborative game designed to measure and/or develop soft skills. By comparing four interaction situations that vary the modalities through which participants can interact (chat, voice only, webcam) as well as the face-to-face / at distance aspect, we will observe the effects on the participants' engagement and on the interactional alignment processes in the interactions produced. The project is strongly interdisciplinary, between social sciences and computer sciences, and involves the SKILDER company, designer of the collaborative game, closely associated with the project in all its stages.

Scientific objectives of the project :

Engaged behaviours analysis. The first objective will be to model engaged behaviours for situations requiring many collaborative interactions, through various modalities (chat, video, etc.) based on understanding learner behaviours at both the individual and collaborative levels, and by considering the multiple dimensions of engagement (cognitive, behavioural, emotional). To this end, we will adopt a theory-grounded approach, relying on existing models in Psychology on learner engagement, motivation and learning strategies, to guide the collection and the analysis of appropriate data. We will have to combine the learning analytics approach with other methods issued from the conversational analysis domain to overcome the lack of information on collaborative processes from logs and thus to inform on learner engagement. 
Degrees of embodiment. The third objective is the main goal of BODEGA project. Once a diversity of situations has been closely analysed and described, we aim to cross our results under the question of embodiment, to eventually relate the enhancement/decrease of engagement, or of the interactional organisation to the modification of the modalities by which bodies can communicate with each other. Although the three partners each have their own research goal, the question of embodiment, its potentiality, its efficiency is a common matter that needs to be thought and discussed as a transdisciplinary object.
Design recommendations for situations improving soft skills development. The fourth objective of the BODEGA project deals with providing recommendations on the degree of embodiment and modalities to be implemented based on the interactional situation (face-to-face or at distance), the degree of users engagement required and the soft skills targeted for training. Design recommendations also include specifications of multimodal data gathering and aggregation (according to the modalities offered by the serious game) to provide reflexive indicators for the improvement of learners' reflexivity on their behaviour in the game and in fine the development of soft skills.

Objectives of the thesis:

● Material and questionnaires preparation and observation sessions.

● Multimodal data collection and synchronization (interaction traces, audio, vidéo) on players interaction during the game.

● behaviours and interaction analysis, specification of engagement models and markers of engaged behaviour for learning analytics techniques.

● Transdisciplinar analysis of embodiment in collaboration with ICAR laboratory (analysis of the way players perceive engagement as well as the multimodal co-construction of engagement in interaction and the experience of embodiment from the perception that others will have of players).

● Design recommendations on the thoughtful implementation of embodiment in serious games according to the socio-relational skills to be developed or the type of social interaction to be favoured.

Required skills :
● Data analysis, learning analytics
● Users behaviors modeling
● Skills or desire to undertake behavioural studies
● Strong interest in multi-disciplinary work, the game and gamification fields
• Good level in English

Applications should include:
• CV
• Motivation letter for the research topic
• Grades for Master 1 and 2 or equivalent
• 2 letter of recommendation

Work Context

The thesis will take place in the LIRIS laboratory, SICAL team composed of 9 permanent associate professors located in the Blaise Pascal building of the INSA of Lyon. The SICAL team proposes generic approaches, models and tools to improve the human capacity to interact, learn and adapt in context. To do so, it proposes iterative user-centred design methods. This research is mainly focused on Human-Computer Interaction.
The project (BODEGA) is funded by ASLAN labex (https://aslan.universite-lyon.fr). The project is strongly interdisciplinary, between social sciences (ICAR laboratory) and computer sciences (LIRIS laboratory), and involves the SKILDER company, designer of the collaborative game, closely associated with the project.

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