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Research process and sleep app design lessons learned from the reflective examination of a sleep study

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-06-12
Abstract: 

Introduction  

Mobile sleep apps are promising accessible treatment for insomnia. Using them as data collection tools akin to sleep diaries has also been proposed. Most of these apps, however, have not been developed using evidence-based principles; limited research exists on their design as research tools (Bhat et al. 2015) (Yu et al., 2019).

In the present study, we explored the opportunities and challenges experienced when using a mobile app for research with our own team’s research study as the unit of analysis. This is an intrinsic case study (Stake, 1995), which can inform other researchers as they use sleep apps in research as an intervention (treatment) or research tool (data collection). 

Materials and methods:

Data were collected during a larger study, designed to test the effects of serial diverse imagining (Beaudoin et al., 2016), using SomnoTest, on insomnia. Data of 19 controls and 15 insomniacs, aged between 18 and 30 years, were analysed. Participants were assigned to one of two app conditions. Group 1 participants heard a countdown from 99 to 1 and Group 2 were prompted to visualise randomly selected brief scenes read by the app at eight-second intervals. Participants completed a one-week sleep diary while using SomnoTest, during the second week.

            This was the first study to analyze SomnoTest data using a qualitative approach involving direct interpretation of participants’ patterns of mobile app usage based on actions recorded (i.e., press start, end, pause, resume, or cancel; time stamp; count of played items), reorganization of usage patterns into tables (visualisation; tabulation), reflection of researchers on their respective experiences in analyzing the data, and the derivation of themes and selection of exemplars based on participants’ usage and researchers’ experiences.

Results

Our exploration revealed four themes: 1) unreliability of sleep diaries when triangulated against SomnoTest data, given that 9 participants had not used the app as claimed; 2) complex, intensive qualitative analysis is needed to identify valid data in an unstructured data set; 3) importance of visualisation when examining data to uncover patterns; 4) identification of “fans” who continue to use the app after their participation in the study.

Our findings reveal that data cleaning involves intensive case-by-case analysis of participant data, which proved challenging with 34 participants and would prove prohibitive for larger scale studies. However, these insights can inform how future sleep studies involving mobile app. 

Conclusion

The development of an algorithm that can efficiently filter valid data usage patterns would facilitate data analysis and researchers’ experience. This would increase sleep app usability as a treatment and research tool. Developing a process for increasing efficiency in data analysis is necessary to exploit the advantages of large-scale data collection that a sleep app makes possible. Further, informing participants that app data would be triangulated against sleep diary during data collection and analysis might increase the accuracy of the data that participants provide in sleep diaries.

Acknowledgements

Conflict of Interest 

Dr. Beaudoin is president of CogSci Apps (develops SomnoTest, mySleepButton and Hook propductivity apps) and owner of CogZest.

References:

Beaudoin, L. P., Digdon, N., O’Neill, K. & Racour, G. (2016). Serial diverse imagining task: A new remedy for bedtime complaints of worrying and other sleep-disruptive mental activity.Poster presented at SLEEP 2016 (A joint meeting of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society). Denver, CO.

Morin, C. M., Drake, C. L., Harvey, A. G., Krystal, A. D., Manber, R., Riemann, D., & Spiegelhalder, K. (2015). Insomnia disorder. Nature Reviews Disease Primers, 1, 15026.

Allocca, G., Ma, S., Martelli, D., Cerri, M., Del Vecchio, F., Bastianini, S., ... & Blackburn, S. (2019). Validation of' Somnivore', a Machine Learning Algorithm for Automated Scoring and Analysis of Polysomnography Data. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 13, 207.

Towards an integrative design-oriented theory of sleep-onset and insomnolence from which a new cognitive treatment for insomnolence (serial diverse kinesthetic imagining, a form of cognitive shuffling) is proposed for experimentally testing this

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-09-21
Abstract: 

We present progress towards an integrative design-oriented (IDO) theory of sleep onset and insomnolence: the somnolent information-processing theory (SIPt; Beaudoin, 2013, 2014). We define “insomnolence” as difficulty falling (back) asleep — a key feature of insomnia (DSM-V).

We argue that theories of human sleep onset and propensity require an IDO approach. By “design-oriented” we mean adopting the design stance (Dennett, 1982; Poggio, 2012; McCarthy, 2008) which is universally known in theoretical Artificial Intelligence and cognitive science but unused in theories of sleep onset and insomnolence, SIPt aside. Like other cognitive science, IDO involves interdisciplinary information-processing theories; but it is also integrative, aiming to specify how requirements of autonomous agency (competence) are realized by the interaction of diverse component processes (subsuming motivational, cognitive, executive and ancillary functions). The IDO approach requires that any appeal to key psychological constructs (“consciousness”, “arousal”, “emotion”, “attention”, “goals”, “intention”, etc.) be grounded in specific IDO theories. This approach is meant to contribute to a paradigm shift in research in insomnia, “emotion” and psychology more generally, in response to what Beaudoin, Hyniewska & Hudlicka (2017) and Muthukrishna & Henrich (2019) identified as the root of psychology’s replication crisis: lack of rigorous, ambitious, progressive, evolutionarily grounded theoretical integration. We claim control of human somnolence posed a significant evolutionary challenge particularly due to their abundant cortex.

Leading theories of insomnia tend to explain insomnolence in terms of cognitive and/or physiological activity (Perlis, 2011) or “arousal” (Harvey, 2005). Cognitive theories of insomnia assume that attention, intention and effort to sleep are insomnolent (e.g., inhibiting “de-arousal”, Espie, 2006). Rejecting these assumptions, we argue that arousal is a problematically polymorphic concept unsuitable for IDO explanations of somnolence.

In contrast, SIPt grounds its major concepts in specific IDO theories. In accordance with Moors' (2017) skepticism, SIPt replaces “emotion” with computational architectures of motivation. More precisely, we leverage the H-CogAff (Sloman, 2003) and LIDA (Franklin et al, 2013) architectures. We replace the concept of “emotion” and “arousal” with IDO concepts of perturbance and alarms. Perturbance is an emergent state in which an insistent motivator tends to control executive functions (Beaudoin, 1994; Wright, Sloman & Beaudoin, 1996). Perturbance is theoretical grounding for repetitive thought (Watkins, 2008). Alarms (Oatley, 1992; Sloman, 2003; Baars & Franklin, 2009) are urgent global control signals which, we claim, also underlie the alarm reaction (Selye 1936).

SIPt postulates that (1) chronobiological processes (Borbély, 2016) are the principal contributors to somnolence; (2) sleep-onset-like information-processing is pro-somnolent (increases sleep propensity); (3) perturbance is insomnolent; (4) alarms are insomnolent; (5) some perceptual states affect sleep propensity: sensing supineness, rocking (Bayer et al, 2011) or skin temperature, Romeijn et al (2011).

We describe an effortful form of cognitive shuffling, serial diverse kinesthetic imagining (SDKI). It is suitable for an experiment pitting SIPt against other theories (eg, Espie, 2006 and Havey, 2005) since only according to SIPt should SDKI be both counter-insomnolent (per postulates 3 and 4) and pro-somnolent (per postulates 2 and 5).

Yet more theoretical work is required towards an IDO theory of somnolence.

Bringing Up Life with Horses

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-06-12
Abstract: 

A key phrase in working with horses, “bringing up life” is taken in its literal sense of moving expressively and energetically in order to animate the movements of the horses. The phrase also points to both what the radical phenomenologist Michel Henry referred to as the auto-affectivity of life and the vital powers of an essential hetero-affectivity. “Bringing up life” is the kinetic, kinaesthetic, affective expression of this fundamental impression that life is shared with other animate beings and that it is all the more powerfully felt for being so. Working with horses – in spite of all the human conceits that groundwork, liberty training, and the riding disciplines hold – can thus reveal what it means to “bring up life” as more than a topic of very practical interest and specific phenomenological description. Through the impressional investigation of this expression we may well begin to feel our way toward more life-affirming, life-enhancing interactions with others of our own and many other animal kinds.

Document type: 
Article
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A Psychometric Evaluation of the Multidimensional Social Competence Scale (MSCS) for Young Adults

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-11-02
Abstract: 

The current study contributes to previous work on measuring the social phenotype in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by validating a multidimensional test of social competence developed for use with individuals with and without ASD. The “Multidimensional Social Competence Scale” (MSCS) was previously validated as a parent-rating scale with youth 11–18 years with ASD without intellectual disability and typically developing adolescents of comparable age. The current study presents a validation of a self-report version of the MSCS in a non-clinical young adult population (N = 1178, males = 360, females = 817, age range = 17– 25 years). The MSCS consists of seven domains that represent social competence: social motivation, social inferencing, demonstrating empathic concern, social knowledge, verbal conversation skills, nonverbal sending skills, and emotion regulation. These domains are theorized to be indicative of the higher-order construct of social competence. A second higher-order theorization of the MSCS structure posits that 3 of these factors are indicative of social responsiveness, and the remaining 4 factors are indicative of social understanding and emotion regulation. Our findings indicated support for each of the theorized multidimensional factor structures. Reliability, optimal scoring, convergent and discriminant validity of the measure, as well as implications for future research are discussed.

Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

Practicum and Teacher Education: Wrapped Around Your Finger

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2017-06
Document type: 
Article
File(s): 

(Mis)Measuring Developmental Math Success: Classroom Participants’ Perspectives on Learning

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-04-03
Abstract: 

Poor completion outcomes in community colleges’ developmental education programs have spurred reforms in developmental education policies and practices in order to increase students’ chances of success. In the case of developmental math, the focus of this article, such changes include revisions to testing and placement policies, amendments to the intended curriculum, and restructuring of the format and sequencing of courses. However, the measures that have highlighted the inadequacies of developmental math are, in themselves, insufficient for assessing the effectiveness of reforms to developmental math. Drawing on interview data from a classroom-level study of a community college’s pilot reform initiative in developmental math, we explore the learning goals articulated by the instructors and a sample of students across four pre-algebra classrooms. Through our analysis of their goals, as well as the extent to which students reported accomplishing those goals, our research underscores the important distinction between course completion and learning. This study highlights the need to assess the effectiveness of developmental math coursework in ways that extend beyond completion rates. 

Document type: 
Article
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Augmenting Reality with Intelligent Interfaces

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-06-27
Abstract: 

It is clear that our daily reality will increasingly interface with virtual inputs. We already integrate the virtual into real life through constantly evolving sensor technologies embedded into our smartphones, digital assistants, and connected devices. Simultaneously, we seek more virtual input into our reality through intelligent interfaces for the applications that these devices can run in a context rich, socially connected, and personalized way. As we progress toward a future of ubiquitous Augmented Reality (AR) interfaces, it will be important to consider how this technology can best serve the various populations that can benefit most from the addition of these intelligent interfaces. This paper proposes a new terminological framework to discuss the way AR interacts with users. An intelligent interface that combines digital objects in a real-world context can be referred to as a Pose-Interfaced Presentation (PIP): Pose refers to user location and orientation in space; Interfaced means that the program responds to a user’s intention and actions in an intelligent way; and Presentation refers to the virtual object or data being layered onto the perceptive field of the user. Finally, various benefits of AR are described and examples are provided in the areas of education, worker training, and ESL learning.

Document type: 
Book chapter
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Making in the Classroom: A Self-Study Examining the Implementation of a Makerspace

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-07-10
Abstract: 

Making is a popular trend that holds many promises for classroom education, the most salient of which is as a vehicle for constructionist learning (Cohen, Jones, Smith & Calandra, 2017). In this self-study, I examine tensions that arose from implementing athe makerspace concept in my grade 10-12 alternate classroom. Self-study is an ideal way to explore the application of makerspace in the classroom as it is both improvement-aimed and contributory (LaBoskey, 2004). This study found that my fear and uncertainty that arose in implementing a makerspace in the classroom contributed to privileging of choice and autonomy over other aspects of makerspaces. Self-study helped me to re-connect with my values and beliefs of supporting student empowerment and student autonomy through scaffolded practices. This self-study also highlighted the importance that fear plays in surfacing tensions that need attending. This rich description of one teacher’s experience contributes to the conversation of how to bring makerspaces into the classrooms.

Document type: 
Thesis
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Adversity in University: Cyberbullying and its Impacts on Students, Faculty and Administrators

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2017-08-08
Abstract: 

This paper offers a qualitative thematic analysis of the impacts of cyberbullying on post-secondary students, faculty, and administrators from four participating Canadian universities. These findings were drawn from data obtained from online surveys of students and faculty, student focus groups, and semi-structured interviews with faculty members and university administrators. The key themes discussed include: negative affect, impacts on mental and physical health, perceptions of self, impacts regarding one’s personal and professional lives, concern for one’s safety, and the impact of authorities’ (non) response. Students reported primarily being cyberbullied by other students, while faculty were cyberbullied by both students and colleagues. Although students and faculty represent different age levels and statuses at the university, both groups reported similar impacts and similar frustrations at finding solutions, especially when their situations were reported to authorities. It is important that universities pay greater attention to developing effective research-based cyberbullying policies and to work towards fostering a more respectful online campus culture.

Document type: 
Article
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Persistent Pedagogical Challenges in Developmental Education Reform

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-04-27
Abstract: 

This chapter presents pedagogical challenges to reform in developmental education and observations of best practices gleaned from successful mathematics developmental education classrooms.

Document type: 
Article