Can an App Predict Our Students GPA or Mental Wellness?

NPR recently covered research from Dartmouth that investigated whether an app could determine their undergrad students GPA. What is most surprising is the level of accuracy reported was consistent with actual grades versus predicted scores.

The investigators created an app (StudentLife) that essentially used a smartphone to assess the environment their students were in to infer situation awareness through computational algorithms, to embrace a semi-educational quantified self. The premise focused on several core areas including:

  • Wake/Sleep Cycles
  • Location Status (e.g. Gym, Library, Home, Off-Campus)
  • Physical Activity
  • Stress Levels
  • Eating Habits
  • Sound Environment (noisy vs quiet)

Surveys were also used through the course of the investigation to assess students overall status, and evaluate changes. Other data collected included study habits and their correlation to social activities (e.g. partying). I highly recommend a look at the studies website to see the data figures and dataset if you are so keen.

What may be interesting to see in the future is applicability of this initial foray into the quantified student lifestyle on professional students education. While the study was small (30 students) and focused on undergraduates, it may give some insight into what could be done to assess students in healthcare studies such as Pharmacy Schools. This may also factor in with increasing concern regarding students mental health, as these apps may help with early identification of studies requiring further intervention or possible aid in the course of their education. Expanding beyond this, such an app approach could be used to assess students in post-grad programs such as residencies. It will remain to be seen how much further this research will be taken, and to what level of applicability it may have.