Instructor-learner body coupling reflects instruction and learning

Yafeng Pan, Suzanne Dikker, Yi Zhu, Cuirong Yang, Yi Hu, Pavel Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is widely accepted that nonverbal communication is crucial for learning, but the exact functions of interpersonal coordination between instructors and learners remain unclear. Specifically, it is unknown what role instructional approaches play in the coupling of physical motion between instructors and learners, and crucially, how such instruction-mediated Body-to-Body Coupling (BtBC) might affect learning. We used a video-based, computer-vision Motion Energy Analysis (MEA) to quantify BtBC between learners and instructors who used two different instructional approaches to teach psychological concepts. BtBC was significantly greater when the instructor employed a scaffolding approach than when an explanation approach was used. The importance of the instructional approach was further underscored by the fact that an increase in motion in the instructor was associated with boosted BtBC, but only during scaffolding; no such relationship between the instructor movements and BtBC was found during explanation interactions. Finally, leveraging machine learning approaches (i.e., support vector and logistic regression models), we demonstrated that both learning outcome and instructional approaches could be decoded based on BtBC. Collectively, these results show that the real-time interaction of teaching and learning bodies is important for learning and that the instructional approach matters, with possible implications for both in-person and online learning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
Journalnpj Science of Learning
Issue number1
StatePublished - 28 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Instructor-learner body coupling reflects instruction and learning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this