Activity Trackers and Student Wellness

Joan Riley (Human Science) · Round 2

It was clear that I was a facilitator and they were in communication beyond the classroom walls. Students enjoy collaborative learning and they do much better work when motivated by peers.

Joan Riley

Personal wellness is an integral factor in creating optimal health for communities and individuals. The Activity Trackers and Student Wellness project was created to help students in the “Living Well” Living Learning community in Kennedy better understand and track their own wellness. Professor Joan Riley and Resident Hall Director, Alexis Downey, designed the course as an independent study with the goals of supporting students to develop skills in being a consumer of research, to delve into the evidence on a wellness area of interest, and to design and implement an inquiry project in response to a question informed by personal experience and previous research. By integrating activity trackers into the Living Learning community inquiry project, Principal Investigator Joan Riley hoped to raise engagement by giving students ownership and purpose, provide motivation, and create a community of leaders. This would teach students to assess, design, implement and evaluate a personal wellness plan, contributing to educating the whole student: mind, body, and spirit to enhance student well-being.

In the Spring 2014 iteration of this independent study, students were given FitBit trackers to connect their own personal wellness goals with the course experience and give meaning to their inquiry. After using the Fitbit for a week and establishing their baseline, Riley and her students set personal goals. Along with exercise, they also tracked their sleep efficiency using the FitBit trackers.

Results indicate that the project both helped connect the personal experience to the course content and provided a common experience to connect students to each other. The most often reported theme that students discussed in their papers, reflections, and evaluations was the class community. Riley intends to integrate the activity trackers into future courses, since it provided a shared experience to create a community of learners. The sense of community allowed students to learn from each other and connect to each other both for the course content but also for achieving personal goals.