This published finding may not be scientifically significant (N=1) for some applications, but if nothing else it does provoke a chuckle (and a tendency to draw general conclusions without enough supporting data simply because – let’s face it – we’ve all been there).
A study published in the IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering reports data from a wearable sensor attached to a student for a week. The portable sensor records the electrodermal activity of the wearer.
“Changes in skin conductance at the surface, referred to as electrodermal activity (EDA), reﬂect activity within the sympathetic axis of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) and provide a sensitive and convenient measure of assessing alterations in sympathetic arousal associated with emotion, cognition, and attention.”
Note the times at which the student is at class (yellow underscore).
No doubt this demonstration will be adopted by proponents of the Inverted Classroom and other related high-engagement learning techniques as an illustration of why the traditional lecture or classroom should be avoided. It is gratifying to note that activity levels during labs (yellow-green) and while doing homework and study (pink and red) are elevated. But then again, upon further inspection the sleep cycle is pretty impressive too.
One can hope this is followed by further investigations and discussions on the physiological and psychological meaning of the EDA waveforms given that the primary purpose of the paper is to report on Poh, Swenson and Picard’s work on sensor development.
Poh, M.Z., Swenson, N.C., Picard, R.W., “A Wearable Sensor for Unobtrusive, Long-term Assessment of Electrodermal Activity,” IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, vol.57, no.5, pp.1243-1252, May 2010. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2009.2038487
Download a PDF of the report here.
Ito, Joi, “A week of a student’s electrodermal activity“ http://joi.ito.com/weblog/2012/04/30/a-week-of-a-stu.html