July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
The current COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating existing mental health issues across college campuses. Through curricular developments we aim to explore the impact of a student-centered design project on empowering students to engage in wellness practices. We propose a novel design project in an introductory bioengineering course to explore stress management techniques through physiology, biosensors, and design. In the introductory course, finger pulse oximeters are distributed to 100 students first year bioengineering students to complete a hands-on project in which they develop a hypothesis around activities that impact pulse rate and oxygen saturation. They test their hypothesis using pulse oximeter devices during the semester. In the 2019 offering, 28% of students independently developed hypotheses measuring stressful events or wellness practices, demonstrating student awareness and an opportunity to engage students in this area. We took this opportunity to redesign the existing project to focus on physiological impacts of stress management techniques and leverage data analysis to reveal physical benefits to engineering students. We believe that if students measure objective, physiologic impacts of stress management on themselves, they may be more likely to realize the benefits and use those techniques when needed. Additionally, we use an objective, data-driven approach to appeal to engineering students. In the revised project presented here, students explore other devices used to measure additional physiological markers of stress, including heart rate variation, skin conductance, while simultaneously learning stress management techniques, including mindfulness instruction. In groups, students design experiments to measure the physiological impact of their chosen stress management technique. Later, data analysis facilitates visualization of statistically significant trends. After data collection, students analyze device functionality and design through usability heuristics and propose improved device design through use of design heuristics. The curriculum developed for an Introductory Bioengineering course combines a hands-on project, data collection and analysis, and design all focused on exploring wellness. The project allows students to develop design skills and to explore wellness practices and their impact on human physiology. While initial student feedback is positive, assessment of the curricular redesign will focus on student evaluation of the offering and their willingness to engage in the mindfulness portion of the course. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need to focus on student wellbeing in addition to physical health. Integration of wellness into the core curriculum promotes use of existing campus resources and can normalize the use of these resources within engineering departments and colleges. Ultimately, the project will lay the groundwork for institutional enhancement of undergraduate STEM education by supporting student wellness through data-driven design.
Miller, I., & Lamer, S. X., & Jensen, K., & Golecki, H. M. (2021, July), WIP: Supporting Student Mental Health: Understanding the Use of Biometrics Analysis in an Engineering Design Project to Promote Wellness Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38101
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