The results of Spotlighters provide tools to support student stress management



An Erasmus+ program project on the science of stress has helped teachers and students better understand stress and acquire stress management techniques. The project was coordinated by the Interactive and Distributed Technologies for Education Research Group.

The Spotlighters project, coordinated by the research group in Interactive and Distributed Technologies for Education (TIDE) of the Department of Information and Communication Technologies (DTIC) of the UPF, wraps up at the end of 2021. The Erasmus+ program project (2018-2021) brought together experts in neuroscience, psychology, educational technology, and pedagogy to develop a series of open educational resources (OER). The OER introduce educators and students to the science of stress and guides them through practicing evidence-based self-regulatory techniques such as Mindfulness.

Spotlighers’ REAs include a free online course, video resources through the project’s Youtube channel, or a toolkit and a free social and emotional learning tool for teachers, among others.

-The pandemic has accelerated the need for resources that support student and teacher mental health. The resources created and tested in the project offer a practical starting point for schools and educators-

The Science of Stress & Self-Regulation (Free Online Course) is a self-paced, online course for high school and university students available at https://tidex.upf.edu. The course helps students learn about how stress can be helpful and harmful, how it causes changes in our bodies, and how we can learn to manage it. The international team of instructors in the course guide students through common stress management techniques that can be used by students for the rest of their lives. The course is available in English , Spanish , Catalan , Greek , Portuguese , Finnish , and Danish. The course has been piloted as part of a teacher training program run by the Institute of Educational Sciences (ICE) at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and in a compulsory first-year course at Pompeu Fabra University’s Department of Information and Communication Technologies.

Spotlighters YouTube Channel features many types of videos created by Spotlighters in each of the project partner languages. There are a series of videos that teach students self-regulatory practices such as progressive muscular relaxation , square breathing , and pursed lip breathing. There is also an example of an energizing activity that can be used in class to activate students ( online course , ClassMood App , teacher symposiums , and to share reflections from teachers and partners about the project and its efforts. All of the video lessons from the online course are also accessible on the Spotlighters YouTube Channel.

Spotlighters Teachers Toolkit for Student Lessons helps teachers teach the lessons produced by Spotlighters. The aim of the content is to educate students about the science of stress and self-regulation. While the Toolkit was produced with secondary school students in mind, the Spotlighters team has also adapted the materials to primary level and tested its applicability in university settings (Beardsley et al., 2021). Materials such as slides, teacher notes, and activity sheets are available in English, Spanish, Greek, Portuguese, Finnish, and Danish (http://www.spotlighters.eu/).

Spotlighters Teacher Workshops were created and piloted in the project. The workshops are two 120-minute professional development workshops for educators. The workshop materials are available on the and include videos by Minna Huotilainen, professor of educational sciences at University of Helsinki, Cognitive Brain Research Unit, CICERO Learning Network, University; and Eveliina Holmgren, Senior Lecturer at the School of Wellbeing, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.

ClassMood App ( https://classmood.upf.edu/ ) is a free social and emotional learning tool for teachers to make teaching and learning more enjoyable (Beardsley et al., 2019). It allows teachers to visualize a map of their student moods and discover mood changing activities for students. The tool helps educators teach students about emotion regulation and provides opportunities to introduce self-regulatory activities such as breathing exercises and cognitive reappraisal. The tool is available in English, Spanish, Catalan, Greek, Portuguese, Finnish, and Danish.

Marc Beardsley , who has managed the project from the onset explains that, -the pandemic has accelerated the need for resources that support student and teacher mental health. The resources created and tested in the project offer a practical starting point for schools and educators.-

An international project with the participation of multiple actors

The project has been coordinated by the Interactive and Distributed Technologies for Education (TIDE) research group of Universitat Pompeu Fabra’s Department of Information Technology and Communications in collaboration with European partners including neuroscientists from Autonomous University of Barcelona and Cicero Learning at the University of Helsinki, researchers from the University of Western Macedonia (Greece) and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences of Helsinki (Finland), as well as social enterprises LOOP.bz (Denmark) Advancis (Portugal) and Boon (Portugal).

From 2018 to 2021, the Spotlighters team organized learning activities with educators and students throughout Europe. Over a 40-month period, the consortium ran 30 sets of pilot lessons with university, high school, and primary school students. Over 1000 students directly participated in the classroom lessons during the project. Moreover, teacher professional development workshops and symposiums for educators were held in five countries (Finland, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Greece).

Local schools such as l’Escola Virolai, l’Escola Collaso i Gil, l’Institut Consell de Cent, l’Escola Pia Sarriā, Centro de Estudios Dolmen, and l’Institut Damiā Campeny de Matarķ participated in project activities. Additionally, Spotlighters has led to scientific publications and new initiatives that directly build upon the efforts made in the project. Initiatives include Illumine ( https://illumine.upf.edu/ ) which is an Erasmus+ project that started in 2021, BEAM ( https://www.upf.edu/web/beam ) which is a project funded by the UPF Planetary Wellbeing Initiative, and ReMIXED which is an Erasmus+ project that will start in 2022.

Work references:

Beardsley, M., Vujovic, M., & Portero-Tresserra, M. (2021). Evaluating an intervention to improve university student stress mindsets and self-management skills. Revista del Congrés Internacional de Docčncia Universitāria i Innovaciķ (CIDUI), (5).

Beardsley M, Vujovic M, Theophilou E, Hernāndez-Leo D, Portero Tresserra M. The Challenge of gathering self-reported moods: Cases using a classroom orchestration tool. In: ICALT 2020 International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies and Technology-enhanced Learning; 2020 Jul 6-9; Tartu, Estonia. New York: IEEE; 2020. p. 355-9. DOI: 10.1109/ICALT49669.2020.00114. Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10230/45240

Beardsley, M., Vujovic, M., Portero-Tresserra, M., & Hernández-Leo, D. (2019, September). ClassMood app: a classroom orchestration tool for identifying and influencing student moods. In European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning (pp. 723-726). Springer, Cham. 10.1007/978-3-030-29736-7_75


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