Using computer games and wearables, researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington are analyzing the effect young students’ physical and emotional states have on their attention and self-control during different tasks, especially learning. The results may reshape instructional methods and where school systems focus their efforts and investments.
“We think that if we understand the different physical and emotional states related to attention and self-regulation, we could develop targeted interventions for children and adults to achieve greater well-being,” principal researcher Catherine Spann said in a release.
Volunteers aged 7 and older answer questions about their levels of self-control and attention in everyday life, as well as how they’re feeling that day, and then move on to play games on an iPad while a wristband tracks their heart rate and skin activity, which gives an indication of how calm and engaged they are. Subjects’ scores are determined by accuracy and reaction time in completing game tasks.
“We need to understand the conditions under which people optimally learn and the ways that educators can best support students,” said George Siemens, executive director of UTA’s Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge (LINK) Research Lab, which is conducting the study in collaboration with the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History’s Research and Learning Center.