Dartmouth researchers and their colleagues have built the first smartphone app that automatically reveals students’ mental health, academic performance and behavioral trends – the StudentLife app.
Said application — which compares students’ happiness, stress, depression and loneliness to their academic performance — also may be used in the general population to monitor mental health, trigger intervention and improve productivity in workplace employees.
An Android app was built to monitor readings from smartphone sensors carried by 48 Dartmouth students during a 10-week term to assess their mental health (depression, loneliness, stress), academic performance (grades across all their classes, term GPA and cumulative GPA) and behavioral trends (stress, sleep, visits to the gym, change in response to college workload).
The researchers presented their findings at the ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing.
Running in the background on students’ phones, the application automatically measured a number of factors without any user interaction.They used computational method and machine learning algorithms on the phone to assess sensor data and make higher level inferences (i.e., sleep, sociability, activity, etc.) The app that ran on students’ phones automatically measured the following behaviors 24/7 without any user interaction: sleep duration, the number and duration of conversations per day, physical activity (walking, sitting, running, standing), where they were located and how long they stayed there (i.e. dorm, class, party, gym), stress level, how good they felt about themselves, eating habits and more.
A number of well known pre- and post-mental health surveys were used, as well as spring and cumulative GPAs for evaluation of mental health and academic performance, respectively. The results show that passive and automatic sensor data from the Android phones significantly correlated with the students’ mental health and their academic performance over the term.
The Dartmouth researchers’ next step is to provide feedback and intervention to help students boost their academic performance while living a balanced life on campus. The application also could be used in other ways, such as real-time feedback on campus safety and stress levels, students at risk and the quality of teaching at any moment.