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Conferences

Associate Professor Andrea Stevenson Won is delivering two Late-Breaking papers at the 2024 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

The first (with Y. Yoo, J. Segal, and A. Hayes) is “Just Look at Them! Encouraging Self-Reflection on Teacher Gaze Behavior through Data Visualizations in Virtual Reality.” In this paper, the authors explore virtual classroom simulations, an exciting avenue for teachers to reflect on their teaching behavior, in particular, nonverbal behavior. In two within-participants studies, the authors explore how visualizing participants’ gaze, using four different data visualizations, affected participants’ behaviors and self-reflection in an immersive virtual reality classroom simulation. They compared a Control condition with no data visualization, an updating Bar Graph over each "student" agent head, and two Fade-In/Fade-Out conditions where the opacity of “students” changed based on whether they were in the field of view of the participant. They found that participants preferred the Bar Graph visualizations, and this condition changed participants’ behavior the most compared to the Control condition. They discuss design implications for virtual classroom simulations as a self-reflection tool for teachers. 

The second (J. Segal, S. Rodriguez, A Raghavan, H. Baez, C. Jung, J. Collins, and S. Azenkot) is “SocialCueSwitch: Towards Customizable Accessibility by Representing Social Cues in Multiple Senses.” In this paper, the authors examine many social cues (e.g. gestures, eye contact, and proximity) in virtual environments, which are currently conveyed visually or auditorily. Indicating social cues in other modalities, such as haptic cues to complement visual or audio signals, will help to increase VR’s accessibility and take advantage of the platform’s inherent flexibility. However, accessibility implementations in social VR are often siloed by single sensory modalities. To broaden the accessibility of social virtual reality beyond replacing one sensory modality with another, the authors identified a subset of social cues and built tools to enhance them allowing users to switch between modalities to choose how these cues are represented. Because consumer VR uses primarily visual and auditory stimuli, they started with social cues that were not accessible for blind and low vision (BLV) and d/Deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) people, and expanded how they could be represented to accommodate a number of needs. They describe how these tools were designed around the principle of social cue switching, and a standard distribution method to amplify reach.

Grants

Grad student Pengfei Zhao received a $5000 2023–24 Frank H.T. Rhodes Leadership Grant and Mission Grant as Principal Investigator from the President’s Council of Cornell Women. The project title is “Victim-Centered, Community-Based Interventions for Online Harassment: Empowering Women and Nonbinary Survivors in Digital Spaces.” Current social media moderation systems, primarily punitive in nature, often overlook the distress and needs of online harassment victims. The oversight of victims can hinder inclusion, diversity, and justice in online worlds. Her project aims to address this oversight by developing and evaluating victim-centered, community-empowered moderation interventions. These interventions seek to empower women and nonbinary survivors in digital spaces by providing support to them and redressing the harm they experience.

Honors

Associate Professor Dawn Schrader recently completed her three-year terms as Chair of the Moral Development and Education Special Interest Group of the American Association for Educational Research (AERA). The official transfer of duties took place at the close of the AERA conference in April. During her tenure as chair, Dawn chaired the annual business meeting, oversaw the evaluation of proposals, helped organize Moral Development and Education sessions, and contributed to the program of the international AERA annual conference in Philadelphia where thousands of educators presented their research.

Jobs

Research Associate Jiawei Liu received a tenure-track assistant professorship at the STEM Translational Communication Center and the Department of Advertising at the University of Florida. He will begin in fall 2024. 

Lectures

Professor Katherine Sender presented “Transnational LGBTQ+ Audiences Respond to Netflix’s Queer Eye Reality Show” to the Media and Communications Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science as part of the department’s Research Dialogues series, which invites works in progress for discussion and feedback. Katherine discussed her current research on LGBTQ+ audiences of “Queer Eye” in Brazil, China, Germany, and the United States.

New Staff

The Department of Communication is pleased to welcome Kristie Milliman as Undergraduate Program Coordinator. Kristie comes to us with 16 years’ experience at Landscape Architecture. 

Publications

Associate Professor Andrea Stevenson Won (with S. Zhou), July 2024, “Effects of First- vs. Third-Person Perspective and Self- vs. Other-Avatars on User Movements in Virtual Reality,” International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. Social science experiments in virtual reality (VR) frequently manipulate the perspective from which a user views an avatar and the identity of an avatar to change participant perceptions and attitudes. However, avatar embodiment may also influence physical behaviors—i.e., the way participants move—during the VR experience, even when participants do not have agency over their avatars; movements. These phenomena hold potential as interventions to prompt participant movements in other contexts.

Postdoctoral Associate Kwanho Kim (with S. Kim and C. Wonjeong Jo), April 2024, “Accuracy of a Large Language Model in Distinguishing Anti- and Pro-Vaccination Messages on Social Media: The Case of Human Papillomavirus Vaccination,” Preventive Medicine Reports. This study examined the accuracy of OpenAI’s GPT in labeling the sentiment of social media messages about HPV vaccination. The findings suggest the potential of this language model in analyzing public opinions on HPV vaccination using social media content.

Picture Time!

The New York City Panel on Climate Change, of which Professor Katherine McComas (pictured above) is a member, released its fourth assessment on April 29, 2024, projecting rises in temperature, precipitation, and sea level. Katherine attended the release event on April 26 at Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the NYC mayor. Members of Cornell’s Risk Communication Research Group helped draft plain language summaries of each of the chapters and are acknowledged in the final assessment.

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