The StudentLife project has been developing ways to combine multiple streams of data about student habits into meaningful holistic analyses of individual's well-being. Communicating those results to a student population poses a challenge to provide information in a legible form and provide meaningful and helpful, and importantly not harmful, feedback to enable students to improve their well-being.
The objective of creating such a tool is to understand what elements are most useful and relevant to communicate to student users, and how to do so in a way that empowers them to benefit from that information, and not enter into ruminative states in which a negative affective response to awareness of a negative affective state becomes a downward spiral. Therefore, a significant element of this project is understanding how people, especially students, respond to self-reflection, what elements of self-reflection can be harmful and helpful, and how to use that understanding to inform the development of a useful and engaging application.
A well-designed reflection tool can provide a means for students to become more conscious of their mental state and mental patterns, reflect on their emotions, build capacity for stressful situations, and utilize resources during times of distress. An effective means of building emotional intelligence, which would allow for better understanding and regulation of emotional well-being, provides utility for students who experience mood disorders as well as students who experience any kind of stress. A tool to utilize the data produced by studying student social media posts and provide beneficial reflection on emotions and well-being might take the form of an application that could be used in conjunction with social media to record and reflect on students' well-being over time. Such a tool would need to take into consideration a variety of factors, and will ideally be designed in response to the interests of students who wish to become more aware of their thought patterns and effect. It could also provide motivation to participate in research regarding the kind of information such a tool would collect in order to provide feedback.
This project consists of understanding the literature about how to provide helpful feedback. Based on that information, I have conducted an internet survey to gauge interest in a feedback tool, as well as different elements that could be incorporated into a feedback application. I have also been collecting information on how providing study participants with feedback may incentivize participation in well-being related research, and the concerns participants express about using applications that track well-being. I am building a prototype to test with student users to gauge responses to such an application.
The SocWeB Lab's mission is to develop novel computational techniques, and technologies powered by these techniques, to responsibly and ethically employ social media in quantifying, understanding, and improving our mental health and well-being.