Sunday, August 24, 2008

A look at some IFS data

I'm sure I have said this at least once over the last three weeks, but IFS is extremely intensive. Not only for the students, but also for the professors. At church this morning I saw two other professors who are in the program, and all three of us are exhausted. I don't know whether to feel discouraged or uplifted that the other two professors have done IFS before...and are still wiped out!

My family has gone off on this hot and muggy Indiana afternoon to go swimming at a friend's pool. I decided to stay home, somewhat because I wanted to get a blog posting up, but also because I'm just tired.

Looking back on the three-week experience, I am amazed at how far the students and I were able to get. Over the course of 15 days, four different student groups were able to generate their own original research hypotheses, identify the independent and dependent variables in them, find examples of media stimuli to satisfy the different levels of the independent variable, collect physiology data as dependent variables, analyze that data and present it to the class!!

Over the next few blog postings I've like to give you a sense of the very interesting questions and results they generated. The first week was devoted to questions about attention to media. In the ICR we primarily use heart rate as an indication of attention/cognitive effort. The first group to collect data wondered whether people would pay different amounts of attention to television stories depending upon whether they were exposed to audio-video presentations, video-only presentations, or audio-only presentations. Those of you familiar with this type of media research, will find this question to be highly influenced by the reading the students did in the Reeves & Nass book entitled The Media Equation. Of course, as an instructor, this made me ecstatic because it meant they were actually reading the textbook!

So, the members of "attention group lizard" found segments of video online from the National Geographic Channel (that's where they got their name) and manipulated them to meet the different levels of their independent variable. And although, like all the data I'll present from IFS, they only had time to run three or four of their classmates through the experiment, here's what they found:

It's obvious that most of the differentiation is in the early part of each message, which appears on the left-hand side of the graph. Substantially lower heart rate (indicating more attention) occurs during the "monkey" video clip. In this video clip there was only video in the students concluded that subjects paid more attention early on during that portion of the stimulus presentation because we are quite unpracticed at processing television shows without any sort of audio. Helping them to reach this conclusion, was the fact that the least amount of attention was paid during the clip that contains both audio and video -- the same way we are so accustomed to watching television.

Congratulations to the members of this group:

Andrew Platkin · Jeremy Rytych · Adam Siemer · Tommy Scott · Logan Gants

and best of luck during your time here at IU!

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