Over the last few weeks I've been working up a study design to explore shyness in higher education. What I have found surprising is that it seems that very little research has looked at shyness in higher education learning interactions (with the exception of Psychologists like Ray Crozier). Yet, when I think about higher education, I think about the importance placed on students around constructing their own knowledge and contributing to discussion and debate, and therefore the extent to which students need to be comfortable to express opinions that others may not agree with, and sometimes be seen making mistakes. These sorts of interactions can be thought of as shyness invoking - they place students in a position where judgements can easily be made about themselves as individuals (i.e. their ability, their intelligence, their personality).
Just started working on a CHI paper for the 2011 conference in Vancouver. The paper is describing the results of a study that the Interact lab strand of the Shyness in Pervasive Computing project has been working on over the last year. The study explored whether ambient visualisations can support the development of rapport in interactants. The results are pretty interesting, suggesting that visualisations responding to mirroring behaviours, and back-channel responses can increase these types of behaviours in pairs of participants completing a planning task. This is especially interesting given the sub-conscious relationship between these types of body language and feelings such as rapport, and trust. I'm enjoying unpacking this analysis and its implications in the article.
Pretty excited at the moment because the research agenda for the shyness project is coming together nicely.