Professor Andrew Campbell of Dartmoor Computer Science, has developed an app capable of tracking the salient aspects of your performance, be it at work or studying.

Prof Campbell developed the idea after finding little correlation between the amount of classroom time of students and their grades.

In an interview first aired on Public Radio International, Prof Campbell told of how the app, StudentLife, collected behavioural data from 48 students in a trial. The data was taken while they were studying, exercising, walking, and even having fun. When carefully measured, the data provided a prediction of the student’s grade point average to within 17 hundredths of a point.

 The data and lifestyle trends were correlated with mental health and academic achievement during one term in 2013. These became the basis for his SmartGPA Study.

But privacy advocates are concerned about the misuse of such technology.

Imagine being made to wear one of these in the workplace or face the sack. The constant surveillance would be an Orwellian nightmare.

But Professor Campbell believes the genie is already out of the bottle:

“I think we’ve crossed the Rubicon in terms of invasive technologies in our lives,” he said on Public Radio International. “Whether you like it or not, devices are intelligent and the can say things about you that may be hidden.”

But from a purely academic point of view the findings were fascinating:

High performers had shorter conversations in the evenings as term progressed – they spent more time studying. And while higher achievers were more conscientious and had higher average levels of ‘positive affect’ (enthusiasm, energy, confidence and alertness) they had no correlation with extroversion, agreeableness or openness.

Neuroticism was linked with lower performance

Proponents for the app say that in the end there are certain habits that are able to provide a greater chance of success. The app merely gives feedback on these habits.

Feedback to whom, is the question.

Like any technology, if well used it can benefit the user. If not, it can enslave them.

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