Smart way to measure how hard teachers work

SKIN DEEP: CSU researchers Dr Tamara Cumming (left) and Associate Professor Sandie Wong (right) with a research assistant modelling the Hexoskin.

SKIN DEEP: CSU researchers Dr Tamara Cumming (left) and Associate Professor Sandie Wong (right) with a research assistant modelling the Hexoskin.

TWO researchers at Charles Sturt University Bathurst will use a “smart shirt” to establish how hard early childhood educators work.

The Hexoskin wearable technology can, among other things, measure a person’s heart rate and the number of steps they take during the day. 

Early childhood researchers Associate Professor Sandie Wong and Dr Tamara Cumming, from the CSU School of Teacher Education in Bathurst, will lead a team in the research being undertaken with more than 30 educators.

Professor Wong said the Hexoskin shirt, which looks like a sleeveless rash vest, has sensors embedded to monitor and record biometric data at one-second intervals.

“Hexoskin smart shirts allow us to measure educators' heart and breathing rates, their number of steps and activity intensity over the course of a day’s shift,” Professor Wong said.

“For the first time, we expect to be able to quantify how hard educators work during their day, and what the particular stresses are on their bodies.”

Professor Wong and Dr Cumming will use the Hexoskin data in combination with tests of educators' salivary cortisol levels (to determine stress levels), general health checks and a survey of the educators' psychological well-being and work environment quality.

“Using this multi-disciplinary approach we will get a holistic picture of educators' well-being, and that will help us to best target our efforts to find effective interventions,” Dr Cumming said.

The pilot project is being funded by the CSU Faculty of Arts and Education.

The project involves a team that includes Dr James Crane and Alexander MacQuarrie from the CSU School of Biomedical Sciences, and Dr Audrey Wang, an educational psychologist, in the School of Teacher Education.