Sean Munson

Winter 2019

A design space for mindfulness technologies

Mindfulness can be defined as awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. Its roots lie in Buddhist traditions from thousands of years ago. Yet today, new technologies (e.g., mobile apps, wearable devices, and VR) are bringing this ancient practice to new audiences.

How can these new technologies be designed to cultivate mindfulness? For example, are ‘social gamification’ features appropriate in an app that teaches mindfulness? Which design choices require special consideration in mindfulness technologies? The goal of this DRG is to create a representation of a design space that can guide the development of mindfulness technologies.

Planned activities:

  • Test and evaluate a different mindfulness technology each week
  • Compile a library of mindfulness technologies
  • Represent a design space for mindfulness technologies. This could be in the form of a visualization, a Wiki, or a simple website.
  • Use our design space to sketch new designs / prototypes

To apply, please complete the following application form by Monday, Dec. 10: Application form.

Meeting times are Wednesdays from 2:30 - 4 p.m. in Sieg 129.

You must enroll in 2 credit hours of HCDE 496/596. Typically, we expect this effort to represent our weekly 90 minute meeting plus 3-4 hours of work outside of our meetings each week. This DRG is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.

This DRG will be led by PhD student Kai Lukoff, with guidance from Associate Professor Sean Munson (HCDE) and Assistant Professor Alexis Hiniker (iSchool).


Winter 2019

Everyday personal tracking: an exploration through practice

This DRG focuses on understanding the motivations and challenges around self-tracking and personal informatics. With the introduction of self-tracking tools, people have the possibility to learn about their own behavior and health more than ever before. However, individuals often struggle with how to interpret their data and transform it into behavior change. By experiencing self-tracking over the course of the quarter and engaging with current literature on personal informatics, we seek to understand these challenges and explore ways in which a human centered design and research approach can offer solutions.

To inform our brainstorming and design efforts, students will track one or more aspects of their daily lives and discuss their experiences with self-tracking in class. From this, students will identify potential research questions and/or project ideas related to personal tracking for the future.


  • We are looking for 10 students who have an interest in learning about personal tracking and will be committed to tracking one or more aspects about their daily lives for 10 weeks. We encourage both novice and experienced personal trackers to apply.
  • This group is open to undergraduate and graduate students from any department and will be meeting every Thursday from 3:30 - 5:00 p.m. in Winter 2019.
  • We expect students to register for 2 credits of HCDE 496/596.

Please note that space is limited. If you are interested, please apply for the group by November 30, 2018, using this survey.

This research group will be led by PhD students Calvin Liang and Susanne Kirchner-Adelhardt with guidance of Associate Professors Julie Kientz (HCDE) and Sean Munson (HCDE).


Winter 2019

Implementing mental health strategies in everyday life

Many people cope with mental health challenges. People develop strategies to cope with stressful situations and to improve outcomes for supporting mental health. In this DRG we seek to understand how people implement strategies to support mental health in their everyday life. Through a qualitative study we will understand how people work with health providers to decide on goals to support mental health, how individuals implement solutions towards mental health goals, and how people update their goals and strategies as they try to implement them everyday. 

Requirements: Students are expected to have taken HCDE 313/418/518, or have worked on projects related to mental health. 

Activities: During the DRG we will conduct an interview and diary study to understand how people implement mental health strategies in their everyday life. Students will be expected to participate in recruiting participants, conducting interviews, analyzing qualitative data, and writing up results. 

We will meet for 90 minutes weekly. The time and day of the DRG will be decided to accommodate the schedule of accepted students and research team. You can register for 1–3 credit hours in HCDE 496/596; for each credit you should expect to spend about three hours of work per week outside of meeting times.

We look forward to working with 2-3 students who have interest in the topic who will work closely with PhD Student Elena Agapie, with guidance from Profs. Gary Hsieh and Sean Munson. Please contact Elena Agapie ( if you have questions.

To apply fill in this form (Deadline: Monday, December 10th). 

Dr. Munson's Research Group archive