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WIP: Supporting Student Mental Health: Understanding the Use of Biometrics Analysis in an Engineering Design Project to Promote Wellness

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Biomedical Engineering Division Poster Session (Works in Progress)

Tagged Division

Biomedical Engineering

Page Count

6

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/38101

Download Count

4

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Paper Authors

biography

Isabel Miller University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Isabel Miller (she/her) is pursuing a MS in Bioengineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, having received her Bachelors in Bioengineering in 2021 from UIUC. She is interested in student mental health and wellness.

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biography

Sara Xochilt Lamer University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Sara Lamer (she/her) is a junior studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is an ARISE scholar in the Grainger College of Engineering. Sara performs undergraduate research in soft robotics and engineering education funded by the IDEA Institute at UIUC. Sara is interested in pursuing a career in Engineering Education as well as furthering her education upon graduating.

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Karin Jensen University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9456-5042

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Karin Jensen, Ph.D. is a Teaching Assistant Professor in bioengineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include student mental health and wellness, engineering student career pathways, and engagement of engineering faculty in engineering education research. She was awarded a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation for her research on undergraduate mental health in engineering programs. Before joining UIUC she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Sanofi Oncology in Cambridge, MA. She earned a bachelor's degree in biological engineering from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia.

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Holly M. Golecki University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Dr. Holly Golecki (she/her) is a Teaching Assistant Professor in Bioengineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an Associate in the John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. She holds an appointment at the Carle-Illinois College of Medicine in the Department of Biomedical and Translational Sciences. She is also a core faculty member at the Institute for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access in the College of Engineering. Holly studies biomaterials and soft robotics and their applications in the university classroom, in undergraduate research and in engaging K12 students in STEM. Holly received her BS in Materials Science and Engineering from Drexel University and her PhD in Engineering Sciences from Harvard University.

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Abstract

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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