Can Biofeedback Technology help Young Children “Learn” to Relax in School?

By Anita Devi and Kieron Sheehy.

Published by Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Research over the years has identified a number of stresses and anxiety periods for children during compulsory education (5–16 years). The current study focuses on infants (5–6 year olds) entering the education system. It explores children’s perceptions of ‘relaxation’ and learning, and it evaluates the use of biofeedback technology in helping young children ‘learn’ to relax. This technology gives users awareness of physiological functions such as heartbeat. In this study, biofeedback technology was used as a method for enhancing children’s relaxation, thereby possibly contributing to their self-regulation and enjoyment of learning. By asking the children themselves, the study evaluates a specific software and approach. This research reports on the first pilot study to use HeartMath™ with young children in school. The findings are relevant to young people and educators, as it contributes to an understanding of how a new technology may be applied in new contexts as well as the possible outcomes of this application.

Keywords: Biofeedback Technology, Relaxation, Classroom Stress, Learning, Enjoyment

Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.73-84. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.252MB).

Anita Devi

Education Consultant, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Anita Devi is a teacher, consultant, writer & researcher, and has taught in Europe, Australia, China, Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, Vietnam and Zambia. Anita has experience in school leadership, local government and consultancy. Her strength and specialty is strategic development and change management. Anita’s background in teaching ranges from 2.5 years to adult learners. In addition to a B.Sc. (Hons) in Psychology and QTS, Anita has a diploma in Montessori Education, an advanced diploma in Human Values Education, and a Certificate in Education for Citizenship and Kaleidoscope therapy, as well as a Masters in Education from The Open University. Anita is a qualified Sounds Write phonics practitioner, a lead moderator for APP, a trainer and facilitator for parenting skills, and a tutor for SEN online training. Since 2007, she has been a member of the Nasen Advisory Board. Anita is a founder member of BATA and also an educational advisor for Epilepsy Action. Currently, Anita is working towards completing her doctorate in education. Within the higher education (HE) sector, Anita has taught on both UG and PG courses and continues to contribute to the strategic develop of HE institutions. In 2011, Anita received the Excellence in Education Award for her SEN work in schools and her international contribution to the professional development of teachers.

Dr. Kieron Sheehy

Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology, Centre for Childhood, Development and Learning, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Kieron Sheehy has a background in teaching and educational psychology. He is interested in inclusion, and how this interacts with pedagogy and new technologies, for example virtual and augmented worlds and robotics. Within this area, he has a particular research focus regarding the development of approaches and contexts that support the learning of children with severe learning difficulties.