HeartBit: Probing Children's Cognitive Skills Using Digital Technology

HeartBit: Probing Children's Cognitive Skills Using Digital Technology

Rojin Vishkaie
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/IJDLDC.2019010104
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Biometric heart-rate information is increasingly proliferating through simple wearable technology. However, this technology presents a need for contextual information to guide interpreting physiological responses in lower and higher levels of cognitive abilities. In this paper, the author introduces HeartBit, a sensor-based intervention used for non-obtrusive heart-rate observation of elementary age children within the creative and critical thinking contexts. The author describes the Sandbox as single-session workshop with individual children, the development of HeartBit, and results from Sandboxes with 35 K-1 students (ages 6 and 7). Findings reveal how children's in-situ levels of creativity and critical thinking were observed through an interplay of system design, heart-rate monitoring, and Bloom's Taxonomy educational learning objectives, and how this differed between the individual children.
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This review is organized in three parts. The first part reviews sensor-based technology and biofeedback information. The second part provides an overview of physiological changes in relation with cognitive activities. The final part introduces Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Biofeedback via Sensors

Alongside skin conductance level, measuring HR is the most common variable used to measure cardiovascular responses to external stimuli (Kreibig, 2010). Typical cuff blood pressure monitors cannot measure changes in pulse in short intervals, but Pulse Transit Time (PTS), which tracks how quickly a blood pressure wave travels from the heart to another point on the body, can be tracked in smaller intervals. Because of this, sensors can be placed on the body and have measurements sent wirelessly to a receiving device, allowing a user to move freely while wearing a device. This also means smaller changes in pulse over time can be tracked, creating a more detailed overview of how levels change over the course of an activity (Tan et al., 2014; Weder, Pietzsch, Zaunseder, Zimmerling, & Netz, 2011). For our study with children, wireless and noninvasive measurements were critical. As these types of wireless sensors become increasingly common in consumer wearables (e.g. smartwatches), they allow researchers to track certain stimuli impact this physiological response in real-time (Merrill & Cheshire, 2017). Prior research has shown that certain emotional stimuli can accelerate and decelerate an HR. Because of the relationship between emotions and biofeedback, researchers can use biofeedback to better track emotional changes. For instance, when an instructor can (unobtrusively) view the biofeedback of a student rather than just monitoring their visible reactions, the instructor can better mediate the activity to lower the stress of the student (or students) (Tan et al., 2014).

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