Using Neuromarketing to Understand Motivation and Learning Performance in Online Learning

In recent years, higher education field has experienced increased growth of online teaching. The varied reasons for the expansion of online learning include increased accessibility, advances in communication technologies, increased demand for ‘flexible’ online or distant learning, and the need for institutions to remain competitive by offering students a variety of learning platforms ᶦ. In addition, recent COVID-19 pandemic forced institutions to suspend face-to-face teaching and to go online.

While online learning makes the education available to the general public, the lack of effective monitoring of how students react mentally and emotionally to the presented material jeopardizes the success of online learning performance ᶦᶦ. Hence, the purpose of the research was to gain insight into students’ motivation, learning performance, engagement and preferences with the use of neuromarketing techniques measuring neural and physiological signals to consequently make the required changes to the teaching material and to investigate what methods of neuromarketing can be used to improve students’ engagement.



A neuromarketing research was conducted on the sample of 297 students at Oxford Business College, UK to answer the research question: How can neuromarketing enhance the motivation and learning performance of students in an online classroom?

This research question was approached from three different perspectives: teacher (how many students follow the teacher), perceptual (following the teacher’s deictic acts) and conceptual (following the teacher’s discourse). Facial coding and eye tracking were used to capture students/teacher co-attention, student motivation, student learning performance and student interest.

The research was conducted using the participant’s web camera and neuromarketing software ‘Tobii Sticky’ to capture emotions, attention and motivation. Hence, access to a computer with an embedded web camera was a prerequisite. The study used two pre-recorded video lectures. The professors in the two videos were different to achieve compatibility with real life where students have several teachers per module. The videos were divided into two separate links for improved accuracy, to avoid poor quality calibration and prevent student fatigue and/or lower levels of responsiveness when watching the second video. Students were sent a participation link to a video lecture based on the experimental group they were randomly assigned to. They were also given a set of images with instructions to ensure compliance with the technical requirements before starting the eye calibration.

In the 90-second-long video, the main goal was to evaluate students’ listening attention and elicited emotions during an online lecture where no visual material was presented (Figure 1). The main goal of the 10-minute online video lecture was to evaluate elicited emotions based on facial coding where visual material was presented and the lecturer’s camera was kept on in the upper right corner of the screen (Figure 2).

Figure 1: 90-second video lecture and AOIs

Figure 1

Source: Institute for Neuromarketing, Croatia. All right reserved.

Figure 2: 10-minute online video lecture and AOIs

Source: Institute for Neuromarketing, Croatia. All right reserved.

The whole article has been published in “Neuromarketing Year Book 2022”, issued by Neuromarketing Science & Business Association (NMSBA). Read more

ᶦ Skordis-Worrall, J., Haghparast-Bigdoli, H., Batura, N. & Hughes, J. 2015. Learning Online: A Case Study Exploring Student Perceptions and Experience of a Course in Economic Evaluation. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 27 (3), 413-22. Retrieved from
ᶦᶦ Ferguson, J. M., & De Felice, A. E. 2010. Length of online course and student satisfaction, perceived learning, and academic performance. Int. Rev. Res. Open Distance Learn. 11, 73–84

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